The British bassist wore a Nazi-like outfit during a two-night stint in Berlin earlier this month
Musician Roger Waters of Pink Floyd has been accused of promoting antisemitism at a recent set of shows in Germany — though those familiar with the group say the rocker was in character as Pink from the band's rock opera The Wall.
Waters was filmed at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin on May 17 and 18 wearing a long black coat and red armband, with insignias that featured crossed hammers instead of swastikas during a two-day stint in Berlin, according to Billboard. In a skit between songs, the 79-year-old British bassist and singer also pretended to shoot a fake machine gun.
Another part of the concert deemed controversial featured names of activists killed by authorities, including political activist Sophie Scholl, George Floyd and Anne Frank, tweets from attendees at the concert posted to social media show. Frank’s photo was reportedly juxtaposed with a photo of a journalist killed by Israeli forces. Other stage set pieces allegedly included a giant inflatable pig featuring a Jewish star with symbols and words that floated over the audience. Banners in the style of the Third Reich featuring crossed hammers instead of swastikas reportedly hung from the ceiling.
Prior to the start of the show, the Pink Floyd singer took to the stage with the following message, "The show will start in 10 minutes and a court in Frankfurt has ruled that I am not an antisemite… just to be clear, I condemn antisemitism unreservedly."
Those comments were in response to a ruling in April by a Frankfurt court that said the city could not cancel a planned May 28 show by Waters, despite protests by several Jewish groups. Waters has been described by city officials as being "one of the most widely known antisemites in the world."
Police in Germany and Israeli authorities have since launched an investigation into the incident, they confirmed to Reuters. Use of Nazi imagery carries strict penalties in Germany — punishable up to three years in prison, though exceptions are made in the law for educational and artistic reasons. In Germany, Waters is currently being investigated under a separate law on suspicion of "incitement of the people."
Waters' costume "is deemed capable of violating the dignity of the victims, as well as approving, glorifying or justifying the violent and arbitrary rule of the Nazi regime in a way that disrupts public peace," a police spokesperson told Reuters. The police will gather evidence for around three months, The Guardian reports, at which point the state prosecutor will decide if the information is "considered an incitement to hatred."
The topics and imagery in the show date back to Pink Floyd's groundbreaking 1979 album, The Wall. While critically acclaimed, the film version includes the star — played by Bob Geldof — imagining himself as a fascist dictator addressing a rally during a drug-induced hallucination. Waters has continued to recreate the scenes in his concerts, including previous shows in Germany, The Guardian reports.
A rep for Waters did not immediately return request for comment.
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