The 19-year-old singer representing France in this year’s Eurovision song contest said he will perform in Israel in May, death threats be damned.
Moroccan-French artist Bilal Hassani said he won’t back down despite the threats over his planned appearance in Tel Aviv. Hassani, who is gay and known for his gender-bending stage get-ups, also has received threats because of his sexual orientation.
“I can’t wait, I heard the life is really exciting over there in Tel Aviv. I can’t wait to see the sun and I can’t wait to visit,” he told Israel’s Channel 12.
Hassani has filed a police report about the threats, according to Channel 12.
Israel is hosting the 2019 contest based on singer Netta Barzilai’s victory in the 2018 competition in Portugal.
Pro-Palestinian activists have called for boycotting the competition. Earlier this week 50 artists, musicians and filmmakers called on the BBC to ask for the music competition to be held in another country, citing Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.
But a BBC spokesperson hit back, saying: “The competition has always supported the values of friendship, inclusion, tolerance and diversity and we do not believe it would be appropriate to use the BBC’s participation for political reasons.
“Because of this we will be taking part in this year’s event. The host country is determined by the rules of the competition, not the BBC.”
Meanwhile, more than 11,200 people signed an online petition calling for the European Broadcasting Union to support the planned Eurovision Song Contest due to be held in Israel in May.
Launched by Creative Community for Peace (CCFP), petitioners said the Eurovision’s “spirit of togetherness is under attack by those calling to boycott Eurovision 2019 because it is being held in Israel, subverting the spirit of the contest and turning it from a tool of unity into a weapon of division”.