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Sweden ramps up Eurovision security amid outcry over Israel's inclusion

By RFI
Israel  Fredrik PERSSON  AFP
FRI, 19 APR 2024 LISTEN
© Fredrik PERSSON / AFP

The Swedish Eurovision host city Malmo has promised heightened security for this year's song contest, which faces protests over Israel's participation while the war in Gaza continues.

Authorities in Sweden have vowed "visible" measures – including police with submachine guns and reinforcements from Denmark and Norway – around the Eurovision event, ending with the final on 11 May.

Normally associated with rhinestones and kitsch, this year the competition has become a more controversial affair as critics have called for Israel to be banned from competing, with the war in Gaza entering its seventh month.

Malmo, Sweden's third largest city, is home to over 360,000 people spanning 186 nationalities, and a significant part of the population is of Palestinian origin.

Demonstrations 

At least half a dozen applications have been filed for demonstration permits to protest the Israeli presence at the competition, which is organised by the European Broadcasting Union together with Sweden's public broadcaster SVT.

Malmo's city authorities say the situation is under control.

"For the various events linked to Eurovision, security measures will be clearly visible," the city's security director, Per-Erik Ebbestahl, told a press conference.

Security checks will be stepped up, in particular for access to the various sites, where bags will mostly be prohibited, he added.

'Heavier weapons'

The police presence will also be strengthened, with reinforcements coming from Norway and Denmark, and officers will be more heavily armed than usual.

"There will be a lot of police in Malmo this time, with their usual armament, but also with heavier weapons" including submachine guns, Malmo police chief Petra Stenkula said.

The executive producer of the event for SVT, Ebba Adielsson, has assured that the security plan for the event is "extremely stable".

"Now what scares me the most is that people are too afraid" to participate, she added.

More than 100,000 visitors are expected to descend on Malmo in the week leading up to the Eurovision final. 

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