Eurovision 2024 Marred by Protests and Controversy as Nemo Wins for Switzerland

Swiss singer Nemo wins Eurovision 2024 with "The Code" amidst protests over Israel's participation. Thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters gathered in Malmö, Sweden, calling for Israel's disqualification.

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Bijay Laxmi
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Eurovision 2024 Marred by Protests and Controversy as Nemo Wins for Switzerland

Eurovision 2024 Marred by Protests and Controversy as Nemo Wins for Switzerland

The 2024 Eurovision Song Contest in Malmö, Sweden, was overshadowed by protests, drama, and calls for peace amidst the ongoing controversy over Israel's participation. Despite the tumultuous atmosphere, Swiss singer Nemo emerged victorious with their song "The Code," marking Switzerland's first win since 1988.

Why this matters: The controversy surrounding Israel's participation in Eurovision highlights the ongoing political tensions and human rights concerns in the region, sparking important conversations about freedom of expression and cultural exchange. As a widely watched and influential event, Eurovision's handling of these issues can have a ripple effect on global perceptions and diplomatic relations.

Thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters gathered in the city center, waving Palestinian flags and shouting "Eurovision united by genocide" to express their opposition to Israel's involvement in the contest. Authorities confiscated Palestinian flags and scarves, leading to frustration and anger among the demonstrators. Police estimated that between 6,000 and 8,000 people joined the demonstrations on Saturday.

The controversy surrounding Israel's participation led to calls for peace and unity from some participants. French singer Slimane halted his rehearsal act to express his desire to sing for peace, emphasizing the need for unity. "We need to be united by music," he said, referencing the official Eurovision slogan.

Israel's contestant, Eden Golan, faced criticism over her country's military conflict in Gaza, with some calling for her to be disqualified. Pro-Palestinian protesters accused the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) of double standards, citing the ban on Russia's participation in 2022 following its invasion of Ukraine. Golan's song, an adaptation of "October Rain," was modified to remove apparent allusions to the Hamas-led October 7 attack.

The contest also saw other developments, with Dutch contestant Joost Klein being disqualified from the contest following an incident involving a female member of the production crew. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wished Golan good luck and condemned the protests as a "horrible wave of anti-Semitism."

Despite the controversy and protests, Nemo's win for Switzerland with "The Code" was a historic moment. Nemo, who identifies as non-binary, became the first non-binary person to win Eurovision. Their genre-bending anthem about their journey towards accepting their identity resonated with viewers and jurors alike. Nemo's victory also marked Switzerland's first triumph since Celine Dion's win in 1988, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of ABBA's Eurovision breakout in 1974.

The 2024 Eurovision Song Contest in Malmö will be remembered as an event marred by political tensions and calls for unity. As Nemo stated after accepting the trophy, "I hope this contest can live up to its promise and continue to stand for peace and dignity for every person." With Switzerland set to host the contest in 2025, the Eurovision community looks ahead to a future where music can truly unite people across all divides.

Key Takeaways

  • Swiss singer Nemo wins Eurovision 2024 with "The Code", Switzerland's first win since 1988.
  • Pro-Palestinian protests mar the event, with thousands demonstrating against Israel's participation.
  • Israel's contestant, Eden Golan, faces criticism over her country's military conflict in Gaza.
  • Nemo becomes the first non-binary person to win Eurovision with their genre-bending anthem.
  • Switzerland to host Eurovision 2025, aiming to promote unity and peace through music.