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Friday 1 December 2023 Dublin: 2°C

Iceland contestants have Palestine flag banners confiscated at Eurovision venue

Meanwhile Eurovision organisers released a statement after two of Madonna’s dancers wore Israeli and Palestine flags.

Kristmundur / YouTube

MEMBERS OF ICELANDIC group Hatari had banners featuring the Palestine flag confiscated from them at the Eurovision Song Contest venue after they flashed them at TV cameras during the voting segment. 

The group, described on the official Eurovision site as an “award-winning, anti-capitalist, BDSM, techno-dystopian, performance art collective” have said they are against Israel hosting the contest, which has been the subject of boycott calls by pro-Palestinian groups. 

In the final section of the show, members of the group displayed banners depicting the Palestine flag as cameras cut to them. 

The stunt was met with boos in the arena, as the Israeli hosts carried on reading the remainder of the public votes. 

Einar Stef, one of the group’s members, posted a video to Instagram showing staff holding one of the banners and asking for the rest of them to be handed over. 

The group, who finished tenth in the contest after receiving a sizeable public vote, earlier in the week described Israel’s hosting of the competition as propaganda and a whitewash. 

Madonna controversy 

While the show, otherwise, passed off largely without incident, organisers have said Madonna did not have permission to make a political statement after the singer’s dancers wore Israeli and Palestinian flags on their backs during her interval performance. 


A statement from organisers on the incident said: 

“In the live broadcast of the Eurovision Song Contest grand final, two of Madonna’s dancers briefly displayed the Israeli and Palestinian flags on the back of their outfits.

“This element of the performance was not part of the rehearsals which had been cleared with the EBU and the host broadcaster, KAN.

The Eurovision Song Contest is a non-political event and Madonna had been made aware of this.

Madonna had come in for criticism over her decision to perform at the contest and earlier in the week released this statement: 

“I’ll never stop playing music to suit someone’s political agenda, nor will I stop speaking out against violations of human rights wherever in the world they may be.

“My heart breaks every time I hear about the innocent lives that are lost in this region and the violence that is so often perpetuated to suit the political goals of people who benefit from this ancient conflict.

“I hope and pray that we will soon break free from this terrible cycle of destruction and create a new path towards peace.”

The Netherlands’ Duncan Laurence, who had been favourite, won the contest with his piano-based power ballad Arcade. The UK finished in last place with just 16 points. 

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