Protests in Malmö: Thousands March Against Israel's Eurovision Participation

Protesters demand that if Russia is disqualified from the competition, then Israel should be as well

by Sededin Dedovic
Protests in Malmö: Thousands March Against Israel's Eurovision Participation
© Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Several thousand people peacefully walked through the streets of Malmö today, as a sign of protest against Israel's participation in the Eurovision Song Contest, Agence France-Presse reported from the scene. "I'm a Eurovision fan and it breaks my heart, but I'm boycotting.

I can't have fun knowing that Israel is participating, when all these children (in Gaza) are dying. I think it's unfair," said one participant of the protest. Israel's participation in Eurovision, whose final will be held in Malmö on Saturday, has been challenged by the war between Israel and the Palestinian movement Hamas in Gaza, with several petitions across Europe calling for Israel's exclusion from the competition.

At the end of March, candidates from nine countries, including the Swiss singer Nemo, one of the favorites, called for a permanent ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. Israeli candidate Eden Golan should participate tonight with the song "Hurricane" in the second semi-final.

"That's not fair. "In my opinion, if they can exclude Russia, why can't they do it for Israel," said one protester. The Russian Broadcasting Organization was excluded from the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) in 2022, after the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The protesters, estimated at around 5,000 by AFP, carried Palestinian flags and banners reading "Free Palestine", "EBU legitimizes genocide" and "We cannot pinkwash colonialism". Climate activist Greta Thunberg, known for her pro-Palestinian positions, was in the procession, along with many families.

A pedestrian crossing in the wider center of Malmö was painted last night in the colors of the Palestinian flag. Responsibility for this action was taken by the leftist movement Skiftet, which opposes the Israeli attacks on Gaza.

In his explanation, Skiftet stated that it is a reminder of the war in Gaza and an expression of protest that the flag of Palestine cannot be brought inside the Malmo Arena during Eurovision. "We know that Malmo residents and television viewers do not want the party to turn into a propaganda night.

That's why we decided to do this as an act of resistance for Gaza," Skiftet said in a statement. The city authorities consider this move to be vandalism that endangers traffic safety and say that they will remove the paint as soon as possible.

On Thursday, when the Israeli representative Eden Golan is also performing at the Eurovision Song Contest, the Palestinian flag also rose on the tower of a confectionery factory in Malmö. The Swedish police expect around 30,000 people to gather at the protests against Israel's Eurovision performance in Malmo on Thursday afternoon, and a smaller pro-Israel gathering has also been announced."