Ireland’s contestant in the Eurovision Song Contest said Saturday that she had received terrifying threats and abusive messages after performing in Israel.
Sarah McTernan, 25, told the Irish Sun that “I got hundreds of threats … It did freak me out.”
“I got a few sinister threats. They were telling me ‘you have to be careful,’ ‘watch where you go,’ ‘you never know where I’ll be,’ ‘be careful who you’re with,’ That kind of stuff,” she said.
In addition to threatening mail, much of which got delivered to her grandmother’s house, the young singer also received “hundreds and hundreds” of threatening and abusive messages on social media. She reportedly went offline for the days leading up to her appearance in the second semifinal of the competition, held last month in Tel Aviv. She did not advance to the final.
“There is still s*** being thrown at me online but I’m not going to look at it,” she told the newspaper.
She said she knew representing Ireland in Israel would be controversial. “I was aware but I didn’t know how much of a backlash there would be,” she said. “I was happy to represent my country.”
Left-wing Irish officials and performers had been calling for their country to boycott Eurovision, beginning just hours after Israel won the 2018 contest and the right to host this year’s Eurovision.
Politics also affected the Eurovision final on May 18, with dancers accompanying pop star Madonna bearing Israeli and Palestinian flags, controversially displayed to the audience while on stage.
Madonna drew criticism over the incident, which violated Eurovision’s strict guidelines against any form of political display during the show.
Additionally, at one point, members of Icelandic band Hatari waved scarves bearing the Palestinian flag at the camera as they waited to hear the scores awarded for their song.