Eurovision 2024: Pro-Palestine activists protest against Israel's entry Eden Golan

French contestant Slimane calls for peace in Gaza and a Norwegian official resigned from the contest over the war

Powered by automated translation

Thousands of people gathered in a Swedish city on Saturday, to protest against Israel’s participation in an international music competition amid the war in Gaza.

The Eurovision Song Contest, which is being held in Malmo, was plunged into further controversy after a French participant called for peace in Gaza and a Norwegian official resigned.

Israel's presence in the contest has caused fierce debate among fans, performers and politicians, and has touched a nerve in Malmo, home to Sweden's largest community of Palestinian origin.

Israel is competing after its original song, October Rain, was considered too political by contest organisers, the European Broadcasting Union. Singer Eden Golan will now perform Hurricane and is one of the favourites to win.

Thousands gathered to protest against Israel’s participation in Malmo on Saturday.

“We're not against Eurovision, we're against that Israel is taking part in this Eurovision. We don't want its representative in Malmo because of what's happening in Gaza,” Swedish pensioner Ingemar Gustavsson said.

More than 100,000 fans were expected to visit Malmo for the show, which has a television audience of millions of people.

Police said there have been no direct threats made at the competition, but they have also bolstered their numbers with reinforcements from Norway and Denmark.

The EBU confirmed in March that Golan would take part despite calls for her exclusion from thousands of musicians around the world.

Before the grand final Alessandra Mele posted to Instagram to say she will no longer be the person who announces the points awarded by Norway during Eurovision.

In a video the former Eurovision contestant said: “Even though I'm thankful that I was given the opportunity to do so, I've taken the decision to withdraw. United by music – Eurovision's motto is the reason why the music unites people, brings them together.

“But right now, those words are just empty words. There is a genocide going on and I'm asking you all to please open up your eyes, open up your heart, let love lead you to the truth.

“It's right in front of you. Free Palestine.”

Also on Saturday, during dress rehearsals French contestant Slimane stopped singing and called for peace in Gaza.

Slimane told the audience: “Everybody, I just need to say something. Sorry I don't speak English very well but when I was a child I dreamt about music, I dreamt about this dream, to be a singer and to sing peace here.

“Every artist here wants to sing about love and sing about peace. We need to be united by music yes, but with love for peace. United by music yes, but with love for peace. Thank you so much, thank you Europe.”

Israel is one of 25 nations competing in the contest.

Updated: May 11, 2024, 11:19 PM