The unofficial King of this year’s contest, Bilal Hassani has arrived in Israel to shoot his postcard. And although we would expect kings to travel with prestigious air companies, the “Roi” hitmaker decided to be more prince of the people by traveling from Paris to Tel Aviv via EasyJet. Orange is the new black, right?
He has, however, found another way to live up to his royal billing. During the trip, he took on the role of chief purser and entertained both the travellers and crew with a mini-cabaret show to flaunt his undeniable charisma and talent.
The Israeli media has been quite intrigued by Hassani since he won the Destination Eurovision last month. After all, he’s a Muslim gay who happens to be representing France in Israel – a country which is being often accused of breaching human rights in the Palestinian territories.
Drawing on all of that, the local media have turned him into a symbol of what Eurovision should stand for: an international song contest built on the exchange of cultures where politics is put to the side.
Last month, Bilal gave an interview to Israel’s biggest TV channel Keshet (Channel 12) and spoke about his dream to come to Tel Aviv and to participate in the contest. But he also addressed the various threats he received after he won Destination Eurovision. Activists called on him not to travel to Israel.
It is a lot for anyone to take — especially one as young as Bilal. So Assi Azar, one of this year’s hosts, chimed in to express his sympathy via Twitter.
Dear @iambilalhassani shalom! I’m Assi Azar, one of the hosts of @Eurovision 2019. I see what you’re going through, and as a part of the LGBTQ community I also know how it feels to be loved by many, and rejected by those who are still in the dark. Stay strong! And see u soon ❤️.
— Assi azar (@assiazar) January 29, 2019
Bilal’s arrival in Israel was covered again by Channel 12. The timing of this may not be coincidental. Last week, it was reported that France Télévisions had threatened to boycott the contest in Tel Aviv due to KAN’s plans to screen a comedy series featuring a French Muslim singer who is involved with a terrorist plot at Eurovision. The character TJ has a strong resemblance to Bilal. This was later denied by the French broadcaster, which said it has no such plans.
What do you think about Bilal’s show? What do you think of all the attention Bilal is getting in Israel? Let us know down below.