Eurovision Song Contest organizers prepared to potentially remove Palestinian flags and symbols from upcoming event

Organizers of the Eurovision Song Contest said Thursday they reserve the right to remove any Palestinian flags and pro-Palestinian symbols at the show next week in Sweden.The announcement came amid heightened tensions surrounding Israel’s participation in the annual music competition over its military campaign against Hamas in Gaza, now in its seventh month. are expected to stage large protests in Malmo to raise awareness of their cause.Michelle Roverelli, the head of communications for the European Broadcasting Union that runs the show each year, said ticket buyers are only allowed to bring and display flags that represent countries that take part in the event, as well as the rainbow-colored flag.The Geneva-based EBU reserves the right “to remove any other flags or symbols, clothing, items and banners being used for the likely purpose of instrumentalizing the TV shows,” she told The Associated Press in a text message.She was responding after Swedish newspaper Goteborgs-Posten reported Thursday that contest organizers had banned Palestinian flags and political banners at the event.National flags are a common sight during the contest as fans cheer on their country’s acts and those they support.The glitzy gala, which draws hundreds of millions of viewers each year, is hosting the event from May 7-11 in Malmo in southern Sweden, following last year’s victory by Loreen for its performance of “Tattoo” last year.Winners earn the right for their country to host the following year’s event: Sweden is set to host for a record-equalling 7th time.Swedish police have warned that security will be tight, in the wealthy Nordic country.Pro-Palestinian activists who want Israel — a former winner — out of the Eurovision Song Contest have announced large rallies in downtown Malmo, several miles from the Malmo Arena contest venue.Last month said they had received an application for a demonstration in Malmo to burn a copy of the Quran before the contest. Sweden raised its terror threat level last year following a series of burnings of the Quran that triggered protests in the Muslim world.In recent weeks, spillover reaction around the world to the nearly 7-month war between Israel and Hamas has fanned large protests on U.S. university campuses and beyond.