MALMO: Climate activist, Greta Thunberg and thousands of demonstrators, marched through the streets of Malmo in Sweden, on Thursday. An international journalist observed the protest, against Israel’s participation in Eurovision.

This year’s Eurovision song contest, began on Tuesday, in the southern city of Malmo. The grand finale is scheduled for Saturday, but the war in Gaza is ‘looming’ over the festivities.

“I am a Eurovision fan and it breaks my heart but I’m boycotting. I can’t have fun knowing that Israel is there participating when all those kids are dying. I think it’s just wrong” 30-year-old protester Hilda (who did not want to provide her surname), told members of the press. The war in Gaza was sparked by the events of October 7,

Israel, launched a military offensive killing at least 34,904 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according Gaza’s health ministry.

In 2022, Russia’s state broadcaster was excluded from the European Broadcasting Union (which oversees Eurovision), in the wake of the war in Ukraine. “I feel like if they can remove Russia why can they not do it to Israel?” 29-year-old, Margo Mustafa said in an exchange with reporters’.

“The people are here for Eurovision trying to celebrate. There’s nothing to celebrate. It’s an ongoing war” she added.

An excess of 5,000 people gathered on Thursday afternoon, in Malmo’s main square, according to an estimate. Signs in the crowd read: “Liberate Palestine”, “EUR legitimises genocide” and “colonialism cannot be washed in pink.”

Israel’s entrant, “Hurricane” by singer Eden Golan, is set to compete in Thursday’s semi-final. It has already been partially re-written and given a new title, after Eurovision organisers deemed the original version to be ‘too political’.

Protester Cecilia Brudell, told the press “At six and nine, my children are now at an age where they want to watch Eurovision but this year we are completely boycotting it”.

Since the new year, numerous petitions have demanded Israel’s exclusion from the 68th edition of the annual music competition. At the end of March, contestants from nine countries, including Swiss favourite Nemo, called for a ‘lasting ceasefire’.

Published in Dawn, May 10th, 2024

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