Eurovision holds crisis meeting after several countries miss rehearsals due to Israeli controversy

'United by music' empty words as 'genocide is taking place, Free Palestine,' says Norwegian singer as she withdraws from Eurovision Song Contest 2024

09:45 - 12/05/2024 Pazar
File photo
File photo

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) is holding a crisis meeting after several contestants from various countries missed to attend the flag parade during the stage rehearsal for the Eurovision Song Contest 2024 final, local media reported on Saturday.

The news comes after Alessandra Mele, a Norwegian singer who was supposed to award Norway's points during the Eurovision final on Saturday evening, decided to withdraw.

Mele cited an inflamed situation that overshadowed this year's music festival in Malmo, Sweden.

In an Instagram post posted on Saturday, she said: "United by music is Eurovision's motto, and the reason why I do music - to unite people. But right now, they are empty words. A genocide is taking place. Free Palestine.”

Bambie Thug, Ireland's Eurovision contestant, had earlier requested that the organizers address comments made on Israeli television before their performance in Tuesday's semi-final, Irish RTE reported.

She said the comments violated Eurovision's rules and that Israel should no longer be allowed to participate in the contest.

"A situation arose while we were waiting to go on stage that I felt I needed to bring to the EBU's attention.

“The EBU has taken this seriously and we have had a discussion about what needs to be done.

“This means I will miss the dress rehearsal. I'm sorry to all the fans who have come to see me. I hope to see you from the stage tonight,” the singer, who was previously seen wearing a Palestinian keffiyeh during an interview, was quoted as saying by SVT.

Bambie Thug's comments come after Eurovision organizers decided to kick out the Dutch singer on Saturday due to a controversy over an "incident," claiming that their decision involved no other performer or delegation member.

The EBU launched an investigation into Dutch singer Joost Klein on Friday after he was heard asking Israel's contestant Eden Golan to justify her participation at a press conference amid Tel Aviv's intensified war on the besieged Gaza Strip.

However, the EBU claimed that its decision to disqualify Klein stemmed from his alleged verbal threats to a woman production worker at the event's venue in Malmo on Thursday night.

French artist Slimane used the rehearsal as an opportunity to make a small peace appeal from the stage. He ended the song before the last chorus, saying: “We need to be united by music. This is for love and for peace, thank you very much Europe!” SVT quoted him.

Earlier on Saturday, tens of thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators marched through Malmo to protest Israel's participation in the Eurovision Song Contest.

Protesters waving Palestinian flags set off smoke flares in the colors of the Palestinian flag, chanting "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free" and "Israel is a terror state" while calling for a cease-fire in Gaza.

In March, the EBU, which organizes the event, confirmed the participation of Israel's act Eden Golan, despite worldwide calls for her elimination amid Israeli onslaught on Gaza.

A video from Friday night's rehearsal in Malmo emerged on social media, showing loud and prolonged booing by others when Golan came on stage.

Ahead of the second semifinal on Thursday, thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators, including Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, took to the streets of Malmo, calling for Israel to be excluded.

Israel is trying to "artwash" Eurovision, by using artistic performance to distract from its actions in Gaza, Thunberg stated on X.

"The world cannot remain silent in a genocide," she said.

In solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza and as part of protests, an alternative music event, Falastinvision, will be held on the final day of the Eurovision Song Contest.

Many artists from Sweden and other parts of Europe will take part in their show of solidarity for Palestinians.

Authorities have taken additional security precautions, including arming police with submachine guns and bringing in reinforcements from Denmark and Norway.Eurovision organizers on Wednesday rebuked one of the Eurovision Song Contest 2024 opening acts for wearing a Palestinian scarf during the first semifinal.

Swedish singer Eric Saade was one of three former contestants who opened the contest, wearing a keffiyeh around his wrist.

The EBU decided last week to prevent contestants, performers, and fans from displaying Palestinian flags and pro-Palestinian symbols during the contest.

The EBU said those who try to enter the Malmo Arena with a Palestinian flag or a banner containing a political message will be stopped and their flags or banners will be taken away, according to the Goteborgs-Posten newspaper.

Russia was barred in 2022 from Eurovision in Italy after Finland threatened to pull its performer unless it was banned due to Moscow's decision to conduct a “special military operation” in Ukraine that year.

The EBU prevented Russia from participating in future competitions.

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