Sunak condemns ‘scandalous scenes’ after protests and calls to boycott Eurovision

The Prime Minister condemned what he called “scandalous” scenes in Sweden following large-scale pro-Palestinian protests in Malmö on Thursday, Downing Street said.

Nearly 12,000 people took to the streets of the city, where the competition is taking place this year, to protest the Israeli military campaign in Gaza.

A Number 10 spokeswoman said: “The Prime Minister believes these protests are wrong and some of the scenes we have seen are scandalous. »

She said Mr Sunak would “urge people to think about this as they reiterate these unfair calls for a boycott” and “at the same time we continue to urge further action on aid in response to a crisis growing humanitarian”.

“There is always the right to peaceful protest, it is part of democracy here and around the world, but regarding the Prime Minister’s opinion, these scenes and the question of whether it is right to call to boycott their actions, no – he thinks that’s wrong,” the spokesperson said.

Swedish police told the PA news agency that the crowd was largely “very peaceful” but that nine people had been warned against disturbing the peace and one man was arrested after allegedly carried a knife in his bag.

Israel’s participation in Eurovision has been a source of controversy amid the rising death toll and humanitarian crisis in Gaza, with the country’s candidate, Eden Golan, booed during rehearsals on Wednesday.

Pro-Palestinian protesters called on artists to withdraw from the competition in a show of solidarity with those living in the war-torn enclave.

Eden Golan representing Israel greets during a press meeting with the entries that qualified for the final after the second semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest
Eden Golan, representing Israel, greets during a press meeting with the candidates who qualified for the final after the second semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest (Jessica Gow/AP)

Golan, 20, has qualified for the final, where further protests are expected.

At a press conference on Thursday, Golan was asked: “Have you ever considered that by being here you pose risks and dangers to other participants and the public?”

She said: “I think we are all here for one and one reason only and the EBU (European Broadcasting Union) is taking every safety precaution to make this a safe and supportive place for everyone and I so think it’s safe for everyone. and we wouldn’t be here (otherwise).

According to the AP news agency, Golan was surrounded by security as she walked from the hotel to the competition venue.

The event organizer said he would not “censor” the audience and encouraged the crowd to “attend in the spirit of the competition, embracing its values ​​of inclusiveness, celebrating diversity and being united through music.”