Despite not participating, Palestinian leaders have condemned the Eurovision Song Contest for its decision to prevent their flag from being flown during the contest.
The European Broadcast Union, which organises the contest, published a list of banned flags earlier this month.
The list includes the Palestinian flag, as well as those of Islamic State. Northern Cyprus, Basque, Crimea and Kosovo. The list also includes England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as they are not UN member states despite the United Kingdom participating at the event, the final of which takes place Saturday night in Stockholm.
But an explanation by Eurovision has failed to satisfy many pro-Palestinian users on social media, including thousands of followers of AJ+, an online news channel run by al-Jezeera, with many expressing anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiment in response to its sensationalistic report highlighting that the flag appears on the same list as ISIS.
Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat urgently demanded the head of the EBU reverse the decision.
“We call upon Jean-Paul Philippot to revoke his decision immediately and to apologise to the 11 million Palestinians of this grave, unacceptable, despicable mistake.”
In a statement, Eurovision’s organisers apologised for any offence caused, insisting the examples given on the banned list were not aimed at specific territories, however it did not say whether the current policy will be changed.
“The document included a non-exhaustive list of examples of flags that under the flag policy are prohibited in the venue. This document was not intended to be published,” EBU said, according to Middle East Eye reported.
In a statement, the EBU said it aimed to “assure that the Eurovision Song Contest is free from political statements, unauthorised commercial messages and offensive comments, in line with the contest’s rules that all 42 participating broadcasters agreed upon”.