Europe’s most popular song contest, Eurovision Song Contest, took place on Saturday night in Stockholm, Sweden. Millions of people saw Jamala from Ukraine win the 2016 edition with the song 1944.
26 countries have competed this year for the ultimate prize and what an evening it has been. Every artist put his heart and soul in it and it was a tight battle all the way until the end. In third place came Russia with the song You Are The Only One, performed by Sergey Lazarev. Australia, not a European country and the favourite of the juries, was the runner up with Dami Im’s Sound of Silence.
And then there was this year’s winner Susana Jamaladinova who performs under the stage name Jamala and who had a Muslim upbringing from her Crimean Tatar father. Crimean Tatars are a Turkic ethnic group located in the Crimean Peninsula. After the liberation of Crimea, in May 1944, hence the name of the song, the USSR at the hands of Stalin ordered that the Tatar population should be removed from Crimea and most of them ended up in Uzbekistan. The parliament decided in 1989 that they were allowed to return to their homeland. More than 200,000 Tatars live in Crimea now and make up for more than 10% of its population. With that in mind, the Tatars form a Sunni Muslim minority in this area. They also form the largest group in whole of Ukraine’s Muslim community.
1944 isn’t just a regular song, it has a strong political message and it tells us more about an ethnic group that has almost been forgotten. She won the hearts of the people with her words, teaching them about a history that barely anyone knows anything about.