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Controversies shadow Eurovision finals

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By Elena Cavallone  & Paula Sendin Rodriguez
Controversies shadow Eurovision finals
Copyright  REUTERS/Amir Meiri/YNet/Pplus   -  

Love it or hate it, you can't ignore it. The Eurovision Song Contest has never been short of drama.

The finals this Saturday are mired in controversy, this time due to the location.

Questions surround whether current host, Israel, should hold such an international event. The country has been in conflict with the Palestinian people for decades. The current conflict in Gaza has reinforced those concerns.

"It is not just because the event might be construed to legitimise Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, it is also because Israel is not done creating itself as a country, and there are too many people who live in ambiguous circumstances within its jurisdiction. I think more Israelis are receptive to that, and that is why there have been so many protests and demonstrations around Eurovision," American-Israeli journalist Joel Schalit told Euronews.

Beyond the political concerns are cultural ones. For worshippers at mosques close to the event, there is a lack of sensitivity towards those praying during the holy month of Ramadan.

“When we pray inside there is no feeling of solemnity because of the sound. That will last for a week and during the week when we pray nightly it is noisy for us here, for worshippers," one local man told reporters.

On stage, the scene is also set for political battles. The Egyptian origins of the Italian singer Mahmood became a target for right-wing populists and the French-Moroccan drag queen Bilal Hassani has faced homophobic abuse.

Additional sources • Reuters