Switzerland wins Eurovision after a politically charged song contest overshadowed by the Israeli controversy



CNN

Switzerland’s Nemo won a chaotic and politically charged election Eurovision Song ContestVictorious in a competition overshadowed by controversy and boos about the Israeli presence.

The usually fun event – one of the most watched on the global cultural calendar – has descended into turmoil in recent days, as organizers in host country Sweden tried and failed to contain anger directed at the Israeli delegation.

But Nemo, a favorite throughout the process, won over the crowd with a stunning performance of “The Code,” a genre-bending anthem about their journey toward accepting their non-binary identity.

“I hope this competition will fulfill its promise and continue to stand for peace and dignity for every person,” Nemo said after accepting the trophy.

“I have to say this whole experience was really intense and it wasn’t just fun all the way through. There were a lot of things that didn’t seem to be all about love and loneliness, and that’s what made me really sad,” Nemo said.

Their win – the first for a non-binary person – was Switzerland’s first since Celine Dion’s win in 1988.

Malmö hosted the contest on the 50th anniversary of ABBA’s Eurovision breakthrough, but the event soon found itself facing political controversy, and tensions rose in the hours leading up to the final.

The demonstrators said the event was a “technical whitewash” of Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza, which has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians since it was launched following the October 7 attacks on Israel.

But organizer the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) defended the Israeli presence, insisting the contest was apolitical – a line that became increasingly untenable as performers, broadcasters and fans clashed over the presence of Israeli singer Eden Golan.

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Golan was booed by some audience members during her performance, while some turned their backs or left the arena, but more attendees welcomed the Israeli performance.

Outside the square, police surrounded a small group of pro-Palestinian demonstrators, keeping them separated from the crowds who arrived for the event chanting “Free Palestine, free!” And “Boycott Eurovision.”

Meanwhile, Irishman Bambi Thug told CNN in the lead-up to the event that it was “the wrong decision” not to exclude Israel, as Russia did two years ago.

Eurovision was “bigger and crazier than I expected,” Nimmo told CNN before the final. “There’s a lot of depth to Eurovision that I didn’t know before.”

“If I win, I will have a big party on the lake in my hometown, Belle,” they told CNN.

Just hours before the event, the European Union was hit by additional disruption Exclusion of the Dutch participant For an incident behind the scenes involving a crew member.

The European Broadcasting Union said police were investigating the incident involving singer Joost Klein, and that it would not be appropriate for him to participate. Some fans made their anger at the decision clear during the final by booing the EBU representatives when they appeared on screen.

Saturday night’s extravaganza featured celebrations from ABBA and other Swedish music stars, and performances from 26 finalists that ranged across genre, language and style.

Next year’s event will be held in Switzerland, after Nemo’s victory. The date and city hosting the competition will be announced in the coming months.

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