Eurovision Organizers Apologize for Eric Saade's Appearance at Opening Act

Eric Saade's

The 2024 Eurovision Song Contest in Malmo, Sweden, kicked off with an opening act that subtly hinted at the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, which has heavily overshadowed the event.

Swedish singer Eric Saade, whose father is Palestinian and who was not competing this year, performed his 2011 Eurovision entry "Popular" while wearing a keffiyeh wrapped around his wrist. The keffiyeh is a Palestinian symbol commonly used in pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel protests. Contestants, performers, and fans are strictly prohibited from displaying non-competing nation flags or making political gestures.

Saade's act sparked controversy, and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has since issued an apology.

Saade, who represented Sweden in the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest, appeared alongside Eleni Foureira and Chanel as guest stars performing the songs with which they had represented their countries in the past.

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Eurovision Organizers Apologize for Eric Saade's Appearance at Opening Act 1

The EBU said in a statement that Saade's actions violated the competition's rules on political neutrality.

"The Eurovision Song Contest is a live television event," the statement said. "All performers are aware of the rules of the competition, and we regret that Eric Saade chose to compromise the non-political nature of the event. We are happy to discuss this with him after the live broadcast, if necessary."

Saade has not yet commented on the EBU's statement.

Last week, Saade expressed anger at the ban on displaying the Palestinian flag but defended his decision to wear the keffiyeh during the broadcast regardless.

The incident comes amid heightened tensions between Israel and the Palestinians. The Israeli government has been criticized for its use of force against Palestinian civilians, while the Palestinian Authority has been accused of inciting violence.

The Eurovision Song Contest is a popular annual event watched by millions of people around the world. The competition is known for its celebration of diversity and inclusion. However, the event has also been criticized for its perceived political bias. In 2019, Israel won the competition, despite calls for a boycott of the event.

The EBU has said that it is committed to ensuring that the Eurovision Song Contest remains a non-political event. It is unclear whether Saade will face any repercussions for his actions. The EBU is expected to review the incident and decide whether to take any disciplinary action.

In the meantime, the organization has apologized for any offense that Saade's actions may have caused.

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