Eurovision Eurovision 2024

The EBU and the Eurovision 2024 organizers have censored Eric Saade for expressing his Palestinian heritage during the first semi-final

Eric Saade, a Swedish artist of Palestinian descent, has been one of the Eurovision-related singers most critical of Israel's participation in the contest.

Eric Saade, known for his notable performance in Eurovision 2011 with “Popular,” was invited by the European Broadcasting Union and SVT to open the first semi-final of Eurovision 2024, alongside Eleni Foureira and Chanel. The Swedish artist, who has since become a mainstay in the national music scene, decided to wear a keffiyeh during his performance, a gesture rich in personal significance as it was a gift from his father to keep alive the memory of his Palestinian roots.

However, this decision by Saade, which wasn’t surprising given his prior activism critical of Israel’s participation in the contest, has sparked negative reactions from the organizers. Ebba Adielsson, the executive producer of Eurovision 2024, expressed her disapproval, calling the gesture an inappropriate use of the festival’s platform.

Eric Saade is well aware of the rules that apply when stepping onto the Eurovision stage. We find it sad that he’s using his participation in this way.

Ebba Adielsson, Executive Producer of the Eurovision Song Contest 2024.

Likewise, the EBU has stated that Eric Saade has “compromised the non-political nature of the contest” despite knowing the Eurovision rules, simply because he wore a scarf. As a result, the organizers have decided not to publish Eric Saade’s performance on Eurovision’s official social media profiles.

Eric Saade’s response In response to these accusations, Eric Saade defended his gesture in an interview, explaining the personal value of the keffiyeh as a symbol of his family roots and regretting that it was interpreted as a political act. In his own words, Saade reaffirmed his intention of inclusivity and emphasizing his ethnic identity without political connotations.

My father gave me this scarf when I was a child, so I would never forget where our family comes from. Back then, I didn’t know it would become a ‘political symbol.’ It’s like calling the ‘Dalahästen’ (a traditional Swedish horse statue) a political symbol. In my eyes, it’s just racism. I just wanted to be inclusive and wear something that identifies me, but the EBU seems to think my ethnic origin is controversial. It says nothing about me but everything about them. As the Eurovision slogan goes: ‘United by Music’.

Eric Saade, Sweden’s representative at Eurovision 2011

Through his social media, Saade shared a message of unity and love, echoing the Eurovision slogan: “United by Music.”

Israel, a media focus of the contest for non-musical reasons

As we all know, the EBU eventually admitted Israel’s song “Hurricane” after some minor changes that removed direct references to the Hamas attack on Israeli civilians in October 2023. However, Israel’s participation in the contest could raise concerns about the safety of attendees and delegations traveling to Malmö to enjoy the world’s largest music event.

Beyond this security issue, the Israeli public broadcaster has violated the core values that the EBU upholds on several occasions. Firstly, the aforementioned hate speech regarding the host city, violating the values of excellence, impartiality, and accountability, by using images of Muslim women with headscarves and labeling them as “antisemites,” even though their signs made no mention of Judaism, and then erasing the images after the controversy without offering any explanation.

In another video published by KAN, we see a missile intended for Palestinian civilian populations in Gaza being signed with the public broadcaster’s logo, while jokes and offensive comments are made in the background.

If we focus solely on the musical aspect, the EBU has allowed the participation of the Israeli entry, which has clear references to the Hamas attack in October 2023, not only in the lyrics but also in the music video. Furthermore, the Israeli government’s Minister of Culture has repeatedly stated his determination to “fight” for Israel’s participation in the contest to tell “their version of the history,” exposing the Israeli government’s political use of the contest as propaganda.

Despite this, the EBU has allowed Israel’s participation in the Eurovision Song Contest 2024. This stands in contrast to what happened with Russia following the invasion of Ukraine in 2022, and with Belarus after its entry was used to whitewash Aleksandr Lukashenko’s role as the country’s president. In both cases, the EBU acted swiftly to expel both countries from the union, and thus from Eurovision, for violating its core values.


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