ADVERTISEMENT

Heightened security expected at Eurovision as protests and terror threats mount

Heightened terror threat means tight security at Eurovision Song Contest in Sweden
Heightened terror threat means tight security at Eurovision Song Contest in Sweden Copyright Eurovision
Copyright Eurovision
By David MouriquandAP
Share this articleComments
Share this articleClose Button

Swedish police state that the security protocols will be "rigorous" for the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest next month - one of the most controversial editions in recent memory.

ADVERTISEMENT

Security will be tight during next month’s Eurovision Song Contest in the southern Sweden city of Malmö, according to police, who have cited demonstrations that could lead to unrest and a heightened threat of terrorism in the Scandinavian country.

“The security is going to be rigorous,” Petra Stenkula, head of police area in Malmö, said according to Swedish broadcaster TV4.

Pro-Palestinian activists who want Israel out of the Eurovision Song Contest have announced large rallies in downtown Malmö, several kilometers from the Malmö Arena contest venue. Activists also have planned two large demonstrations to protest Israel’s participation, as conflict in the Middle East threatens to overshadow the feelgood music festival. Some musicians have urged the European Broadcasting Union, the event organizer, to drop Israel from the event over its conduct of the war against Hamas in Gaza, triggered by the militant group’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

Last year, Sweden heightened its terror threat level one notch to “high,” the fourth of five levels, for the first time since 2016 amid a deteriorating security situation following recent burnings of the Quran that triggered protests in the Muslim world.

Police said that an application to stage a demonstration in Malmö to burn a copy of the Quran before the song contest had been handed in.

There is no law in Sweden specifically prohibiting the burning or desecration of religious texts, and Sweden doesn’t have any blasphemy laws.

“Freedom of expression is strong in Sweden,” Stenkula said, according to the Malmo newspaper, Sydsvenska. “Now we first have to assess the application that has been received, then we have to see if it gets permission.”

She told a press conference that Swedish police will get reinforcements from across the country as well as from Norway and Denmark. She didn't provide details.

“We have terror threat level four, so we cannot empty the whole of Sweden of police officers" during the song contest, Stenkula said.

An edition rocked by controversy

Kaleen from Austria performs during the concert Nordic Eurovision Party held at Berns in Stockholm, Sweden, Sunday 14 April 2024
Kaleen from Austria performs during the concert Nordic Eurovision Party held at Berns in Stockholm, Sweden, Sunday 14 April 2024Fredrik Sandberg/AP

This year’s competition has been rocked by controversy over Israel’s participation, which has led many to boycott the event and calls for Israel to be excluded from Eurovision 2024.

Many have also called on the artists themselves to speak out against Israel’s involvement.

Several of the competing artists, including the UK’s Olly Alexander, Ireland’s Bambie Thug, Finland’s Windows95Man and many others, have issued a statement defending their participation while saying they “do not feel comfortable being silent” over the situation.

Last week, EBU Deputy Director General Jean Philip De Tender said that the organization understood “the depth of feeling and the strong opinions" that this year’s Eurovision Song Contest has provoked, but "“firmly oppose any form of online abuse, hate speech, or harassment directed at our artists or any individuals associated with the contest.”

Sweden won last year’s contest in Liverpool, England, with the power ballad 'Tattoo' by singer Loreen. The host country usually is the winner of the previous year’s event.

Malmö, Sweden’s third largest city, hosted Eurovision in 1992 and 2013.

The Eurovision Song Contest semi-finals are on Tuesday 7 and Thursday 9 May before the Grand Final on Saturday 11 May.

Share this articleComments

You might also like