Iceland's Eurovision act: We'll be offensive, won't wave Palestinian flag

EBU says it is confident that Hatari will observe the rules of the competition.

March 6, 2019 18:26
2 minute read.
Iceland's Eurovision act: We'll be offensive, won't wave Palestinian flag

Hatari, the Icelandic band to perform in Tel-Aviv. Members are: Klemens Nikulásson Hannigan, Matthías Tryggvi Haraldsson and Einar Hrafn Stefánsson. . (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Hatari, Iceland’s controversial Eurovision act, said this week that it – and all Eurovision acts – are bound to be offensive.

The three-man band, who call themselves a BDSM-inspired techno-punk performance art group, were selected on Saturday night to represent Iceland at the Eurovision in Tel Aviv this May. The group quickly made headlines over its pledge to use the position to protest Israel and its belief that the country shouldn’t be hosting the competition at all. The band is set to perform their song, “Hatrio Mun Sigra,” (Hate Will Prevail) during the first semi-final on May 14 in Tel Aviv.

In an interview with Channel 13 News earlier this week, the band appeared to say it would abide by the competition rules. Of course, when it comes to their public appearances, it’s hard to know what – if anything – to take seriously.

“I don’t think, as of now, there will be a Palestinian flag on the stage,” the band told the Israeli network, adding: “It’s clear that all of the songs that will be performed on stage in Tel Aviv will in fact offend the sensibilities of many people.”

While it’s hard to argue with that, the rules of the competition are clear. The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) states that “no lyrics, speeches, gestures of a political, commercial or similar nature shall be permitted during the Eurovision Song Contest.”

A spokesman for the EBU told The Jerusalem Post earlier this week that it is fully expecting Hatari to follow its regulations.

“Iceland’s EBU Member RUV is very much aware of rules and is looking forward to competing in Tel Aviv in May,” a spokesman said, in response to a request for comment on Hatari’s statements. “The Eurovision Song Contest is a long running non-political entertainment event... the EBU and the host broadcaster take all necessary steps to safeguard the non-political character of the event.”

Despite that, the band made it quite clear in its interview with Israeli television this week that it doesn’t agree.

“If Eurovision 2019 is not a political affair, then the Likud Party is a pop band and [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu is the lead singer,” they said. They also reiterated their invitation to challenge Netanyahu to a traditional Icelandic wrestling match in Tel Aviv after the competition.

“There was a lot of pressure in Iceland to boycott the competition,” the band said in the interview. “We have been critical of the competition being held in Israel, and the fact that Iceland voted for us means they agree with our agenda of keeping alive a critical discussion.”

Either despite or because of their outlandish style and outspoken politics, the band is quickly becoming one of the favorites to win the contest this year. Although not all the acts and songs have yet been announced, Hatari is currently ranked in fifth place on’s betting ranks and in sixth place on out of the 41 participants this year.

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