At the San Remo music festival, rapper Ghali expressed his solidarity with Palestine. RAI apologizes, a moderator does not want serious content.

Singers on stage.

Rapper Ghali (right) at the Sanremo Music Festival on February 9 Photo: Riccardo Antimiani/Zuma Press/imago

Without politics: this is how the Sanremo Music Festival was announced this year, the number one television event in Italy, broadcast every night last week by the state-owned RAI. From Tuesday to Saturday, millions of people were glued to their screens to admire 30 musicians, and on the last night 14 million tuned in, more than any other television event.

On Saturday, rapper Ghali, an Italian with Tunisian roots, broke the political ban on going on stage with just three words. “Stop the genocide!” he declared.

Israel's ambassador immediately spoke out and accused the rapper of spreading “hatred and provocations.” And the RAI management reacted promptly. In May 2023, the radical right-wing government of Giorgia Meloni installed loyal followers there, especially the head of the administrative council, Roberto Sergio. On Sunday, at a show in which the stars of San Remo appeared again, he had a statement read in which he once again underlined his “solidarity with Israel and with the Jewish community.”

How difficult it is to keep RAI under political control in the interests of the Meloni right was already demonstrated in the same Sunday program.

“There is no time” for content

Singer Dargen D'Amico reflected on immigration in a conversation with presenter Mara Vernier and said that immigrants contribute more to Italy's social security than the country spends on hosting refugees. The presenter reacted in panic and interrupted the musician with the words “we are talking about music” and there was “no time” for other topics.

It's stupid that his song at the Sanremo Festival was about migration and that he answered journalists' questions.

Venier then accused them of asking the wrong questions. “This is how you get me in trouble,” he yelled at them, not realizing that his microphone was still on. At least the station's leadership probably appreciated his commitment to a RAI loyal to Meloni.