Berlin police have launched a criminal investigation into Roger Waters for suspected incitement after he appeared to dress as a Nazi during a concert in Berlin last month.
“The context of the clothing worn is deemed capable of approving, glorifying or justifying the violent and arbitrary rule of the Nazi regime in a manner that violates the dignity of the victims and thereby disrupts public peace,” said police chief inspector Martin Halweg, according to a Jewish News UK report.
Germany has strict laws against incitement to racial hatred, a reaction to the country’s Nazi past.
Waters at times dons a uniform resembling SS garb, with a long black jacket, black gloves and a red armband, and symbolically shoots a gun into the crowd during the shows. He reportedly did so at a May 17 concert in Berlin.
Waters, a leader in the boycott Israel movement, has also sparked outrage by projecting Anne Frank’s name at recent concerts to draw comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany. Such comparisons are considered antisemitic under the widely-used IHRA definition of antisemitism.
During his current tour, Waters has lumped Frank together with Palestinian Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in on-screen projections. Abu Akleh was killed in unclear circumstances during a gunfight between Israeli troops and Palestinian terrorists in the West Bank last year.
Waters has also put a Star of David on the side of an inflatable pig during recent shows.
Waters performed concerts in Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt, where the Jewish community organised a protest.
The Frankfurt municipal government and Munich’s mayor unsuccessfully attempted to block Waters from performing. The city of Frankfurt had called Waters “one of the most widely-spread antisemites in the world,” over imagery and Israel critique at his past concerts.
Waters was also scheduled to perform a series of concerts in Britain starting this week.
The Jewish Representative Council for Greater Manchester and the Region said in a statement that Waters is “synonymous with spreading deeply-troubling political views that will rightly concern Jewish and other communities”.
“Allowing Waters to perform risks damaging community cohesion with the possibility of an increase in hate crimes targeting Jewish people,” the council said last week.
UK parliamentarian Christian Wakeford, a member of the Labour party, called on Manchester’s AO Arena to cancel Waters’ performance due to his “vile comments towards the Jewish community with his performances used to dehumanise Jewish people, peddle conspiracy theories and promote antisemitism”.
Wakeford said the leader of the House of Commons, Penny Mordaunt, was aware of the issue and would be informing the Home Office.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews said last week that it was “very concerning” that Waters will be performing in the UK, describing his concerts as “political rallies.”
“Waters has a long history of vile comments relating to the Jewish community, from his talk of ‘the Jewish lobby,’ to his comments that some Jewish people in the UK and America bear responsibility for the actions of Israel,” the group said.
In a Facebook post, written while he was in Munich, Waters doubled down on his anti-Israel rhetoric and again compared the Jewish state to Nazi Germany.
Quoting Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel, Waters said Germans had been forced to “stand by silent and indifferent” while Israel commits “institutionalised murder”.
“The tyrannical racist regime is the State of Israel,” Waters said, likening the Jewish state’s treatment of Palestinians to the Holocaust.
He accused the “Israeli lobby” of manipulating attempts to cancel his shows.
“I feel sorry for you having to live, or at least live with, the lies we are all fed by The Powers That Be,” he wrote to his fans.
TIMES OF ISRAEL & AGENCIES