Eurovision in Sweden, amid protests in support of the Palestinian people or Israel


Demonstration against Israel’s participation in the Eurovision Song Contest, before the second semi-final, in Malmö (Sweden), May 9, 2024. LEONHARD FOEGER / REUTERS

A few hours before the second semi-final of Eurovision, Thursday May 9, Malmö looked like a city under siege. As helicopters buzzed the sky, armored vehicles and hundreds of police officers roamed the streets. Unprecedented, this security system was deployed when two demonstrations were to take place a few hours apart, in the center of Malmö: one, at the call of around sixty associations, to protest against the Israeli participation in the competition; the other, organized by the Jewish community, to support the Israeli candidate.

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The first demonstrators gathered in the middle of the afternoon, on the main square of Malmö, soon covered by a sea of ​​Palestinian flags. On the signs, calls for “ceasefire in Gaza”has “the end of the genocide” and at “boycott of Israel”. Families are large. The crowds grow as trains arrive from neighboring Denmark.

In their fifties, Jeanette Volfbrandt and her friend Karima (who does not wish to give her last name, like other people interviewed) came from Copenhagen, like a good half of the demonstrators. They believe that Israel should not have been allowed to participate in Eurovision: “It is an apartheid state, which is committing genocide”exclaims Karima, who assures that she will continue to demonstrate “until Palestine is liberated”.

Librarian in Malmö, Soledad Cartagena cannot support the Jewish state “attempts to clear himself of his crimes” by participating in Eurovision. Daughter of Chilean refugees who arrived in Sweden after the 1973 coup d’état, she regrets the tone of public debate in Sweden, which “Assimilates all those who denounce what is happening in Palestine to terrorists”.

“All children are equal”

Her hair covered by a veil and her eyes lined with mascara, Hanna, 33, believes that Israel should have been prevented from participating in Eurovision, just like Russia after the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 She denounces Islamophobia, which she believes has intensified in Sweden. “since October 7” 2023.

A little after 4 p.m., the demonstration got underway. The security service is on the lookout. Masks and hoods are prohibited. The procession, made up of 10,000 to 12,000 people according to the police, follows the planned route. Some chant: “Intifada revolution! », “Malmö, recognize that this is genocide” Or : “All children are equal!” » There is “psychologists with Palestine”, “health workers with Palestine” and young climate activists, including Greta Thunberg, wrapped in a keffiyeh.

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