Palestine, ISIS flags banned from Eurovision song contest

The European Broadcasting Union's guidelines on spectator conduct includes an 'official flag policy.'

The flags of the Palestine Liberation Organization and Islamic State (photo credit: Courtesy)
The flags of the Palestine Liberation Organization and Islamic State
(photo credit: Courtesy)
If there’s excitement and anticipation in the air, if there’s about to be an explosion of glitz and glamor, you know what that means – the Eurovision song contest is upon us.
The annual display of over-the-top kitsch is just less than two weeks away, but if you are one of the lucky ones who will be attending the extravaganza at Ericsson Globe in Stockholm, don’t bother taking your flags of Palestine or Islamic State.
The venue hosting the contest published the European Broadcasting Union's guidelines on spectator conduct which includes an “official flag policy.” The EBU is the consortium of public television networks in Europe that will be producing the show.
While it’s customary for fans in the arena to wave the flags of their favorite countries competing in the contest, those wishing to make provocative political statements by waving certain flags of political movements and extremist groups will not be welcome.
Beside the flags of the Palestine Liberation Organization and ISIS, spectators are also forbidden to brandish the banners of Kosovo, Nagorno-Karabach, the Basque movement, and Crimea.
The flags of “the People’s Republic of Donetsk,” Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus, and Transnistria are also prohibited.
Spectators at the show will be permitted to wave the flags of any of the 42 participating countries as well as the European Union flag and the rainbow flag which represents the LGBT community. The flags of countries that have participated in past Eurovision contests but will not be represented in Stockholm this year – like Turkey, Romania, and UN members – are also deemed acceptable.
The guidelines, which were announced against the backdrop of numerous press reports throughout the Continent indicating that ISIS could be planning an attack on the festivities in the Swedish capital, are angering Eurovision fans in the areas represented by the banned flags.
The EBU, in full damage-control mode in light of the backlash, released a statement on its Facebook account indicating that the document outlining the flag policy was not meant for public consumption.
"On Thursday afternoon, a draft version of the flag policy for the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest was published on the website of the Globe Arena and ticket agency AXS,” the organization said. “The document included a non-exhaustive list of examples of flags that under the flag policy are prohibited in the venue. This document was not intended to be published.”
“The organizers understand and acknowledge the sensitivities of presenting a selection of flags of organizations and territories, each of them of very different nature. The organizers apologize to everyone who feels offended by the list.”
“The EBU has asked the Globe Arena and AXS to immediately remove the document that includes the flag examples, and to publish the official document, without the examples, instead.”