French Muslim Eurovision contestant gets death threats over trip to Israel

Bilal Hassani says he looks forward to his visit to Israel and admires last year’s Eurovision Song Contest winner, Netta Barzilai.

By David Jablinowitz, World Israel News

France’s entrant to the Eurovision Song Contest had already received death threats over his sexuality and appearance. Now, after winning in the French selection process to represent his country at the Eurovision event, he says that he is facing threats over his planned trip to Israel.

The Eurovision competition is scheduled to take place in May in Tel Aviv.

Bilal Hassani, a 19-year-old from Paris, is from a Muslim Moroccan family and is openly gay. He performs in colorful wigs and heavy makeup.

Interviewed this week on Israel’s Channel 12 television station, Hassani said: “Sometimes there are people who try to make it a political event but I’m not about that. The stage is a sacred place.”

He said that he is excited about visiting Israel. “I can’t wait. I heard the life is really exciting over there in Tel Aviv. I can’t wait to see the sun and I can’t wait to visit.”

“I’ve been watching Eurovision ever since I was a little boy. It was always something that I used to say, ‘One day I’ll represent France at Eurovision,’” Hassani explained.

“I am just a boy from maybe the new generation who really feels like he can do anything,” he quipped.

Israel won the right to host the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest by winning in 2018 with Netta Barzilai’s “Toy.”

Hassani is a “huge, huge fan” of Barzilai. His song in this year’s contest, “Roi” (“King”), speaks of self-acceptance and empowerment, a similar theme to that in Barzilai’s song.

Calls made to move the contest out of Israel have been turned down, though the original Israeli plan to hold the competition in Jerusalem was dropped.