why the public will not be able to wave Palestinian flags

why the public will not be able to wave Palestinian flags
why the public will not be able to wave Palestinian flags

The organizers have announced that only the flags allowed at Eurovision will be those of the participating countries and LGBT flags. A rule unchanged from last year, which de facto bans Palestinian flags.

If the war between Israel and Hamas is at the heart of Eurovision 2024, organizers want to ensure that it does not interfere in the competition. Thus, the New York Times reports this Thursday, May 2 that only the flags of the 37 participating countries will be authorized during the event, which will take place next week in Malmö in Sweden. Which includes the Israeli flag and excludes the Palestinian flag.

The grand final of this 68th edition will take place on May 11, after two semi-finals on May 7 and 9. The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), in charge of the competition, specifies to the American media that the only flags other than those of the participating countries which will be authorized will be LGBT flags.

In addition, the EBU reserves the right “to confiscate all other flags as well as symbols, clothing, accessories or signs that will be used with the probable aim of exploiting the program”, says Michelle Roverelli, director of union communication, from Associated Press.

“The same rules as last year”

Each year, the organizers of the program emphasize the apolitical nature of the competition, one of the founding values ​​of this competition launched in 1956. In fact, the rules concerning the flags “are the same as last year”, declares Martin Österdahl , executive TV hook supervisor, at Swedish media TT. “There is no change.”

Sophia Ahlin, head of the Swedish Eurovision fan club, confirms to the New York Times that there is “nothing unusual” in only the flags of the competing countries being allowed.

In 2019, the edition held in Tel Aviv, the Icelandic group Hatari held up banners in the colors of Palestine during the final despite the ban. Pointing to the rule of the competition which provides that “participating broadcasters” must “ensure that the competition is in no way politicized or exploited”, the EBU sanctioned Iceland.

When conflict arises

War has raged between Israel and Hamas since October 7, when the Hamas terrorist organization entered Israeli soil and killed 1,170 people before taking around 240 hostages to Gaza.

In retaliation, Israel launched an ultra-deadly response in Gaza, in which more than 34,000 people died according to figures from the Hamas Ministry of Health. Some 130 Israeli hostages are still being held in Gaza.

It is in this climate of tension that many voices have been raised since December to demand that the organizers of Eurovision exclude Israel, represented this year by the singer Eden Golan and her title Hurricane.

Calls for a boycott, from artists and Internet users, have multiplied in recent months, based in particular on the exclusion of Russia after its invasion of Ukraine in 2021. The EBU has definitively ruled out the possible exclusion of Israel last February, arguing that “in the case of Russia, Russian broadcasters had been suspended from the EBU due to their persistent failure to fulfill their membership obligations and for violating the public service values.

Faced with persistent discontent, the EBU clarified in a press release that it was a “convinced defender of freedom of expression” and that it “supports the right of those who wish to demonstrate peacefully” outside the Malmö Arena.

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