Pro-Palestinian Demonstrations at the Eurovision Song Contest

Jens Johansson

Summary: Pro-Palestinian demonstrations gathered in Malmö, Sweden to show support for the people of Gaza – Editors

One of Sweden’s most significant pro-Palestine demonstrations since October 7 unfolded in Malmö last week. The catalyst for this was the Eurovision Song Contest, a gigantic annual European music competition hosted in Malmö this year. Israel’s participation in the contest added a contentious and controversial element to the event, which is otherwise often associated with inter-European solidarity, parties, and celebrations of the LGBTQ scene.

Two years ago, when Russia invaded Ukraine, the European Broadcast Union (EBU), which organizes the Eurovision Song Contest, immediately blocked Russia from participating. But this year, the EBU decided not to block Israel from participating. This decision generated lots of frustration and anger. People from all over Europe came to Malmö to attend the demonstrations last week, which drew tens of thousands of people who gathered over several days. Greta Thunberg was one of them who met up to protest Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza. She and the #FridaysForFuture-movement have been very active and visible at pro-Palestine demonstrations lately.

The display of Palestinian flags or scarves was strictly prohibited inside the arena where the song contest was held. However, this did not deter the artists and audience members, who defiantly smuggled in these symbols and proudly displayed them during the live broadcast. In several countries where the show was broadcast, program hosts who originally had signed up to comment on the contest live publicly decided to boycott the show this year. In the Netherlands, a trade union at the national public service company took action and interrupted the show when it was on air and broadcasted a message to all Dutch viewers that declared support for Palestinians.

Outside the arena and in the city, there has probably never in Malmö’s history been so many police around. The head of the police in Malmö, Petra Stenkula, admittedly said that she had expected it would become much more violent but was surprised that the demonstrations were so peaceful.

One visible concrete result of the demonstrations in Malmö last week is that a famous roundabout outside Folkets Park now has a new sign and a new name. From now on, the roundabout will be known as the Gaza Roundabout.


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