Protests in Italy after RAI distances from Ghali’s “stop genocide” Sanremo comments

The rapper used Italy’s Eurovision Song Contest search programme to demand Israel “stop genocide”.

While Angelina Mango celebrated her victory at the 74th Sanremo Festival, the Israel levelled criticism against Italy’s biggest TV music competition for comments made by one of the other contestants.

Italian-Tunisian rapper Ghali came fourth in the competition and used his appearance in the finale to demand “stop genocide”.

The Sanremo Music Festival is one of the most watched television events in the Italian calendar as the longest-running annual TV music competitions and the basis for Eurovision.

ollowing Ghali’s comments, the Israeli ambassador to Italy, Alon Bar, said the festival had been used to “spread hatred and provocation in a superficial, irresponsible way”.

Bar posted on X that: “In the October 7 massacre, among the 1,200 victims were over 360 young people slaughtered and raped during the Nova music festival. 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.”

Since the Hamas terrorist attack in October, Israel’s assault on Gaza has killed over 28,000 Palestinians, including over 12,000 children. Ghali’s comment in the show didn’t mention either Israel or Gaza by name.

In response to the ambassador’s comments, Ghali has said: “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.”

Ghali wasn’t the only participant in the Sanremo Festival to appeal for peace. Singer Eros Ramazzotti said “no more blood, no more wars”, while rapper Dargen D’Amico made the comment: “There are children under the bombs, without water and without food. Our silence is co-responsibility.”

Roberto Sergio, CEO of RAI, the state-owned broadcaster that airs the show, has expressed his solidarity “with the people of Israel and the Jewish community” in a letter read during the show. He has also commented that the broadcaster will continue to programme content that recognises the tragedy of the 7 October attacks.

Yesterday, protesters clashed with Italian police outside RAI’s offices in Naples. Protesters chanted their support for the Palestinian people facing a humanitarian crisis in Gaza and accused RAI of bias against them.

The protest was in direct response to RAI and Sergio distancing itself from Ghali’s Sanremo comments. A 29 January poll found that 58% of Italians think Israel doesn’t have the right to continue bombing Gaza, with 26% in support of the campaign.

Five police officers and five protesters have been injured in the clashes outside the offices, reports ANSA.

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