Eurovision says Palestinian, Islamic State flags unwelcome
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Eurovision says Palestinian, Islamic State flags unwelcome

Contest organizers say draft version of banner policy published by mistake, apologize ‘to everyone who feels offended’

Palestinians carry national flags during a protest marking Land Day in front of the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, Monday, March 30, 2015 (photo credit: AP/Mahmoud Illean)
Palestinians carry national flags during a protest marking Land Day in front of the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, Monday, March 30, 2015 (photo credit: AP/Mahmoud Illean)

The Palestinian flag this week appeared on a list of banned banners for the Eurovision song contest, alongside the Islamic State group flag and others.

Under Eurovision rules, regional flags, those belonging to federated states, or including commercial, religious or political messages, are all banned. Authorized are the flags of countries participating in the contest and any other UN member state, as well as the EU and rainbow banner that represents the LGBT movement or peace.

Eurovision said a draft version of the flag policy was published by mistake on the website of the venue and the ticket agency selling seats for the extravaganza, hosted this year by the 2015 winner Sweden. Contest spokesman Dave Goodman told AFP that “the flag policy is not aimed against specific territories or organizations, and certainly does not compare them to each other.”

The organizers of the hugely popular contest apologized for what they said was a mix-up.

“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,” it said. “The organizers apologize to everyone who feels offended by the list.”

Organizers have asked the venue and ticket agency to remove the offending document, and post another official one without examples.

Sweden's Mans Zelmerlow reacts after winning the Eurovision Song Contest final on May 23, 2015 in Vienna.  (AFP PHOTO / DIETER NAGL)
Sweden’s Mans Zelmerlow reacts after winning the Eurovision Song Contest final on May 23, 2015 in Vienna. (AFP PHOTO / DIETER NAGL)

The annual contest, now in its 61st year, features acts ranging from the brilliant to the bizarre and pulls in a TV audience of around 200 million worldwide. The semi-finals for the competition are to take place in Stockholm on May 10 and May 12, with the final being held on May 14.

Israel has appeared 38 times in the contest, and won three times, most recently in 1998, when transgender singer Dana International competed with the song “Diva.” This year’s Israeli entrant, Hovi Star, will compete in the May 12 semi for a spot in the final. The Palestinians have never entered the competition.

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