Palestine envoy angry at ‘insulting’ flag ban

The Palestinian ambassador to Sweden has demanded an official apology after a leaked document revealed that the Palestinian flag was on the same Eurovision banned list as that of Islamic State.

Palestine envoy angry at 'insulting' flag ban
The Palestinian flag (left) was included on the same banned list as that of Islamic State (right)
A row broke out last last week after internal document, approved by the Eurovision Song Contest’sReference Group committee in April, was leaked which listed nine flags as “specifically not allowed” during the competition, which will begin next weekend at Stockholm’s Globe Arena. 
As well as the Palestinian flag, the list also included that of banned terror group Islamic State. 
“To include it in such a list is insulting,”  Hala Husni Fariz told The Local.  “They say they have based our categorisation on the UN, well then they have made a mistake, a big one, and they have to correct it.” 
Husni Fariz was appointed Palestine’s ambassador to Sweden in January 2015, following the government's decision to recognise Palestine as a state. 
The list includes the flags of other contentious political entities such as the Donetsk People’s Republic, the Basque country and Nagorno-Karabakh, and Kosovo. 
Husni Fariz pointed out that the Palestinian flag had been hoisted at the United Nations in New York in 2015, at the embassy’s premises in Sweden, and frequently at official occasions in Sweden, which recognised Palestine in 2014. 
“This flag is an official flag which represents a state recognised by 136 countries and which is an observer at the United Nations,” she said. 
“We are not members of Eurovision, and we don’t have any participants, so why was our flag included on anything like that? I don’t believe that it should be banned. Why should it be banned?”
The European Broadcasting Union, which is organising the contest alongside SVT, has that the only flags allowed to be flown are those of the participating countries, the UN, the EU, and the gay pride flag. 
According to Husni Fariz, the Palestinian diplomat Saeb Erekat has sent a letter to the EBU demanding a public and official policy. 
The flags on the list include: 
The Basque country
Islamic State
Donetsk People’s Republic
Northern Cyprus


Sweden among favourites after leaping through to Eurovision final

Cornelia Jakobs, Sweden's entry to the Eurovision Song Contest, burst into tears and jumped onto presenter Mario Acampas, after shooting through to the final on Thursday night.

Sweden among favourites after leaping through to Eurovision final

Jakobs was emotional at the press conference after her victory, telling the story of her progress from an “largely unknown” indie artist to the Eurovision stage. 

“There are a lot of feelings right now in this little body, an extremely large amount of feelings that can’t really fit in, so they’re exploding,” she said, before beginning to cry. “But I’m so happy and overwhelmed by all the support I’ve got from all these fantastic countries.” 

When the time came to pick lots for which half of the final she would appear in, she leapt onto Mario Acampas, the presenter asking questions at the press conference, wrapping her legs around his waist and clasping herself tightly to his torso. 

He then walked her over to the bowl where the lots were lying. 

“I want you to choose the second half,” she said to him. “Imagine that I have a pistol here and on the count of three I’m going to shoot you if you don’t choose.”

He refused to pick for her so she took one herself and got the second half. 

Jakobs, with her song, “Hold me closer”, was the clear favourite to go into the final, and will go through alongside Finland’s The Rasmus, and his song Jezebel, Serbia’s Konstrakta with “In corpore sano”, as well as entries from Belgium, Czechia, Azerbaijan, Poland, Estonia, Australia, and Romania. 

You can see her performance on Thursday in the video below. 

In the final, she will meet the other favourites, which include Ukraine, Italy, and the United Kingdom. 

The final will be shown on Sweden’s state broadcaster SVT at 9pm on Saturday.