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Dutch contestant kicked out of Eurovision hours before tension-plagued song contest final

Klein, a 26-year-old Dutch singer and rapper, had been a favorite of both bookmakers and fans with his song “Europapa.”

Joost KleinMALMO, Sweden: The Netherlands’ contestant in the Eurovision Song Contest was dramatically expelled from competition hours before Saturday’s final of the pan-continental pop competition, which has been rattled by protests over the participation of Israel.

Competition organizer the European Broadcasting Union said Swedish police were investigating “a complaint made by a female member of the production crew” against Dutch performer Joost Klein. The organizer said it would not be appropriate for Klein to participate at the event in Malmo while the legal process was underway.

Though Eurovision’s motto is “united by music,” this year’s event has proven exceptionally divisive. Israel’s participation has attracted large pro-Palestinian demonstrations, with protesters saying the country should be excluded because of its conduct in the war in the Gaza Strip.

Klein, a 26-year-old Dutch singer and rapper, had been a favorite of both bookmakers and fans with his song “Europapa.”

He failed to perform at two dress rehearsals on Friday, and the EBU had said it was investigating an “incident.” Though rumors had been flying the incident was connected to Israel’s delegation, organizers said the incident “did not involve any other performer or delegation member.”

Dutch broadcaster AVROTOS, one of dozens of public broadcasters that collectively fund and broadcast the contest, said it “finds the disqualification disproportionate and is shocked by the decision.”

“We deeply regret this and will come back to this later,” AVROTOS said in a statement.

It all makes for a messy climax to an event that draws both adoration and derision with its campy, kitschy ethos and passion for pop.

Thousands of people gathered in central Malmo on Saturday to march for the second time this week through Sweden’s third-largest city, which has a large Muslim population, to demand a boycott of Israel and a cease-fire in the seven-month war. In Finland, a group of about 40 protesters stormed the headquarters of public broadcaster YLE on Saturday morning, demanding it withdraw from the song contest because of Israel’s participation.

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