Israel was eliminated in light of widespread protests.. Switzerland wins the Eurovision contest

Thousands of people demonstrated in the Swedish city of Malmo, on Saturday, to protest Israel’s participation in the Eurovision Song Contest, while the military campaign launched by Israel in Gaza cast a shadow over the final competitions of the contest.

The organizers of the competition, who always describe this annual event as non-political, resisted calls to exclude Israel, but asked it to change the lyrics of the song in which it participates to delete what organizers described as references to the Hamas attack on October 7 that sparked the war.

A large number of demonstrators gathered in the main square of the host city of Malmo and then headed on foot towards the place where the competition activities were being held. They waved Palestinian flags and chanted: “Genocide unites Eurovision,” instead of the official slogan of the competition, which is “Music unites us.”

A demonstrator named Maryam told Reuters on Saturday: “It is important to show that we will stand on the right side for everyone. This could be any other country and we will still be standing here, because this is about children, men and women who have been under occupation for many years.”

Police said the number of demonstrators ranged between six thousand and eight thousand.

Climate activist Greta Thunberg was seen being detained by local police, according to a photo taken by Reuters, on Friday.

Climate activist Greta Thunberg was detained by local police, according to a photo taken by Reuters, on Friday.

The final competitions of the competition will begin at 1900 GMT.

Protests abroad are increasing in opposition to the Israeli war in Gaza, and American universities have witnessed some of these protests in recent weeks. More than 10,000 pro-Palestinian activists, including Thunberg, organized a peaceful protest before the semi-finals of the competition, Thursday.

A smaller group of pro-Israel individuals, including members of the Malmö Jewish community, also organized a peaceful demonstration on Thursday, in defense of Israeli singer, Eden Golan (20 years old) and her right to participate in the competition.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators complained of double standards, as the European Broadcasting Union banned Russia from participating in the Eurovision contest in 2022, after its invasion of Ukraine.

Israeli statistics indicate that the attack carried out by Hamas on October 7th on southern Israel caused the death of about 1,200 people and the taking of more than 250 hostages. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel would not stop the war until Hamas was eliminated.

The Ministry of Health in Gaza says that the military operation launched by Israel on the Strip in response to the Hamas attack caused the death of nearly 35,000 Palestinians. The bombing also destroyed the coastal sector.

Frustrating Dutch viewers

In another controversial issue within Eurovision, it was decided to exclude Dutch contestant Joost Klein, on Saturday, from the final competitions of the competition due to a complaint filed by a member of the production crew, according to the European Broadcasting Union.

The federation said: “It would not be appropriate for him (Klein) to continue in the competition while the legal proceedings take their course.”

A representative for Klein did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Dutch network Afrotros reported that Klein was photographed after he left the stage after performing his semi-final performance on Thursday, despite what was agreed upon not to be photographed.

“This (agreement) was not respected,” the network said in a post on the X platform, adding, “This led to a threatening gesture from Yost toward the camera.”

The network added that Klein did not touch the photographer, noting that it believes that the punishment imposed on Klein is “extremely heavy and disproportionate.”

“We are very disappointed,” one Dutch fan said.

The European Broadcasting Union said that Dutch viewers would still be allowed to vote for the other contestants and that the result of the Dutch jury would still be included in the final competition.

Bettors consider that the most prominent candidate to win the competition is Croatian Marko Burisic (28 years old), known as (Pepe Lasana), who is competing with the song “Rem Team Tagi Deem,” followed by Israeli singer Golan with the song “Hurricane.”

A Reuters journalist who was in the hall said that some booing came from the audience before, during and after Golan’s performance in the semi-finals on Thursday, but there was also applause and waving of the Israeli flag.

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