IN PICTURES: Thousands march in Malmö to protest Israel's Eurovision entry

AFP/The Local
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IN PICTURES: Thousands march in Malmö to protest Israel's Eurovision entry
Police watch as protesters march between Stortorget and Mölleplatsen in Malmö. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Thousands of people marched through Malmö to protest Israel's participation in the Eurovision Song Contest over the Gaza war.


Singer Eden Golan performed her song "Hurricane" in Thursday's second semi-final without incident in front of 9,000 spectators at the Malmö Arena and booked her place in Saturday's final after a televote.

Earlier in the day, more than 10,000 people including climate activist Greta Thunberg gathered in Malmö's main square before marching through the southern Swedish city's central pedestrian shopping street, according to police estimates.

A sign reading 'Welcome to Genocide Song Contest'. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

"I am a Eurovision fan and it breaks my heart, but I'm boycotting," 30-year-old protester Hilda, who did not want to provide her surname, told AFP.

"I can't have fun knowing that Israel is there participating when all those kids are dying. I think it's just wrong."

Alongside signs that read: "Liberate Palestine", banners that said "EUR legitimises genocide" and "colonialism cannot be washed in pink" could be seen in the crowd.

About 50 protesters made it to the front of the Malmö Arena, where the event is taking place, before being dispersed by a heavy police presence. Protesters also entered the Eurovision Village, where spectators can follow the concert on large screens.

In a different neighbourhood, about 100 counter-protesters gathered under police protection to express their support for Israel.

A demonstration in support of Israel's Eurovision entry at the Davidhall square. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

According to police, nine people in total on Thursday were held for breaching public order and one person on suspicion of carrying a knife, but otherwise police described the protests as calm considering the thousands of people who participated.


Earlier on Thursday, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Thursday wished Golan good luck and said she had "already won" by enduring the protests that he called a "horrible wave of anti-Semitism".

The war in Gaza was sparked by Hamas' unprecedented October 7th attack on Israel, which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Militants also took about 250 hostages. Israel estimates 128 of them remain in Gaza, including 36 who officials say are dead.

Police estimated that the protest drew around 10,000-12,000 people. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Israel in response vowed to crush Hamas and launched a military offensive that has killed at least 34,904 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory's health ministry.

Protests calling for an end to Israel's punishing Gaza campaign have broken out on university campuses in North America, Europe and Australia.


'Why not for Israel?'

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?" said protester Marwo Mustafa.

"Hurricane" has already been partially re-written and given a new title after Eurovision organisers deemed the original version to be too political.

Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Since the beginning of the year, several petitions have demanded Israel's exclusion from the 68th edition of the annual music competition, which opened with the first semi-final on Tuesday.

At the end of March, contestants from nine countries, including Swiss favourite Nemo, called for a lasting ceasefire.

Protester Cecilia Brudell told AFP: "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."



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