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German court rules Roger Waters show can go ahead

A Frankfurt court says blocking the 79-year-old's upcoming Festhalle gig would infringe upon Waters' free speech rights

By James Hanley on 25 Apr 2023

Roger Waters

image © Andrés Ibarra

The controversy over Roger Waters’ Frankfurt Festhalle concert has taken another twist after a German court ruled the show must be allowed to go ahead.

Frankfurt City Council and the state of Hesse had attempted to block the 28 May performance, citing allegations of “persistent anti-Israel behaviour” from the Pink Floyd co-founder, who it claimed was “considered one of the most widely spread antisemites in the world”.

However, according to national broadcaster DW, the Frankfurt administrative court has concluded that blocking the show would infringe upon the 79-year-old’s free speech rights. It found that although Waters’ show borrowed symbolism linked to national socialism, it could not see that he was “glorifying or qualifying Nazi deeds”, or identifying with Nazi racial ideology. There was also no indication that he would be using Nazi propaganda during the event.

The court agreed that it may be in “especially poor taste” to allow Waters to perform at the Festhalle, which was the site of the deportation of 3,000 Jews to their deaths during the Holocaust, just after Kristallnacht. But it added that it “not be injurious to the human dignity of those people”.

DW adds that the city and state are expected to appeal the court’s decision.

More than 35,000 people have signed a petition demanding Waters’ upcoming German dates be allowed to go ahead

Waters said last month that he was taking legal action against the move to cancel the concert, branding it  “unconstitutional”, “without justification, and based upon the false accusation that Roger Waters is antisemitic, which he is not”.

Last week, he issued a further statement on social media, insisting he was pressing ahead with his plans to play the show.

“Frankfurt Council were legally required to respond to Roger Waters’ interim injunction by midnight April 14. Did they? Nobody knows,” he said. “We can only guess at what’s going on in Frankfurt. Are they playing for time? Who knows? Not that it matters much. We’re coming anyway! Because human rights matter! Because free speech matters!”

American journalist Katie Halper launched a petition demanding for Waters’ upcoming concerts in Germany to be allowed to go ahead. More than 35,000 people have now signed the petition, with high-profile signatories including artists Eric Clapton, Brian Eno, Nick Mason, Peter Gabriel and Tom Morello.

A similar row is ongoing regarding the other German dates on Waters’ current This Is Not a Drill tour, which include Barclays Arena in Hamburg (7 May), Cologne’s Lanxess Arena (9 May), Mercedes Benz Arena in Berlin (17-18 May) and Munich’s Olympiahalle (21 May).


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