For a song contest trying to avoid politics, Eurovision 2024 is proving challenging | Ents & Arts News

May 9, 2024
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“Boycott Eurovision” a man shouts into a microphone, “shame on Eurovision”.

For a song contest striving to avoid politics, Eurovision 2024 is proving challenging.

Thousands of pro-Palestinian protestors gathered in Malmo today to demonstrate against Israel’s inclusion in the contest as the war in Gaza rages on.

Read more: Everything you need to know about this year’s show

Tonight, Israeli entrant Eden Golan will find out if she’s through to the final.

A decision to allow Israel to participate has been contentious, prompting some to boo during Golan’s dress rehearsal.

The Pro-Palestinian demonstration ahead of the Eurovision Song Contest. Pic: AP
Image:
Pic: AP

The outcry follows months of demonstrations and calls for a boycott.

Among the crowd today a group carries a sign reading “murder on the dance floor”.

“I’ve come because I want to kick out Israel from Eurovision,” one woman tells me.

Eurovision protest
Image:
Demonstrators are calling for a boycott of the contest

Eurovision protest

“Some people would argue that you shouldn’t mix politics and music, but I feel that is a very narrow view of the world because in the end it is all about politics, it is all about momentum,” adds Hussein who says he’s here because he has Palestinian roots.

Golan says she wants to unite people with music but the ongoing protests add to the tensions surrounding the contest.

Israel's Eden Golan with Hurricane for Israel. Pic: Sarah Louise Bennett/EBU
Image:
Israel’s Eden Golan performs her song Hurricane. Pic: Sarah Louise Bennett/EBU

Police aren’t taking any chances

Security in the city is tight.

This year’s song contest has prompted one of the biggest police operations ever in Sweden.

Against the backdrop of two wars and the recent Moscow terror attack, they are not taking any chances.

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Eurovision fans on Israel

“We are aware that Sweden as a country is at a four on a five-point terror-threat scale and we obviously have that with us in our planning,” Jimmy Modin, a spokesperson for Swedish police, said.

“We will have a lot of police officers from all over Sweden but also from Norway and Denmark, who will work with us during this week and we will also be flying with our drones.”

Despite the security presence, some here are nervous.

Read more:
Eurovision fans arrive in Sweden
Ireland reaches Eurovision final for first time since 2018
Eurovision facing controversy

Protesters gather during the Stop Israel demonstration against Israel's participation in the 68th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) in Malmo, Sweden, May 9, 2024. TT News Agency/Johan Nilsson via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. SWEDEN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SWEDEN.
Image:
Pic: TT News Agency/Johan Nilsson

Fredrik Sieradzki, a spokesperson for Malmo’s Jewish community says antisemitism has been rising since 7 October.

Some fear Jews will be targeted during the contest.

“People think that something will happen and [some] are getting away from Malmo. Some are very afraid and they will not go out. They won’t be at the venues where there will be celebrations and for sure not where there is a big demonstration,” Mr Sieradzki says.

Police are hoping their sheer numbers on the streets will offer reassurance.

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And the tensions have not destroyed the Eurovision spirit.

Many here still only have music on their minds.



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