The Sanremo Italian song festival – Italy’s biggest showbiz event – has been criticised by Israel after a rapper competing in the contest’s final appealed to “stop genocide” during his appearance on stage.
Alon Bar, Israel’s ambassador to Italy, said the festival, which draws in millions of TV viewers and is used to pick the Italian candidate for the Eurovision song contest, had been exploited to “spread hatred and provocation in a superficial, irresponsible way” after the appeal by Ghali.
“In the October 7 massacre, among the 1,200 victims were over 360 young people slaughtered and raped during the Nova music festival,” Bar posted to social media. “Another 40 of them were kidnapped and are still in the hands of the terrorists. The Sanremo festival could have expressed solidarity with them. It is a shame this didn’t happen.”
Noemi Di Segni, the president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, told the news agency Ansa that she was disappointed the platform wasn’t instead used to appeal for the release of the hostages. “They too have the right to their music and to return to their homes,” she said.
Amid the controversy, Roberto Sergio, the chief executive of the state-owned broadcaster Rai, which airs the festival, expressed solidarity “with the people of Israel and the Jewish community”. He said the network’s programmes “recount the tragedy of the hostages in the hands of Hamas” every day and would continue to do so while remembering the 7 October “massacre”.
Asked to comment on Bar’s reaction, Ghali, whose parents came to Italy from Tunisia, told the Rai talkshow Domenica In: “I have always spoken about these issues, since I was a child, not since 7 October … the fact that the ambassador speaks like this is not good. The policy of terror continues, people are afraid to say stop the war, stop the genocide, we are living in a moment in which people feel that they are losing something if they say long live peace.”
Other artists made anti-war statements during the event. The singer Eros Ramazzotti said “no more blood, no more wars”, while the rapper and singer Dargen D’Amico said: “There are children under the bombs, without water and without food. Our silence is co-responsibility.”
The Sanremo festival – whose final this year was won by Angelina Mango – rarely passes without dispute, or without criticism from Italy’s far-right parties. Lucio Malan, a senator with Brothers of Italy, the party led by the prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, said: “A music festival is not the right place to talk about an international crisis, especially if it is done in one direction.”
Diğer gönderilerimize göz at