An administrative court in Frankfurt ruled in favor of Roger Waters in his dispute with the city over a live appearance. Frankfurt canceled an upcoming Roger Waters show, calling him “one of the world’s most influential antisemites.”
The court in Frankfurt found that neither the city nor the state of Hesse had the right to cancel the concert at Frankfurt Festhalle on May 29. The court said as the state of Hesse owns concert organizer Messe Frankfurt, it and the city are obliged to “make it possible for Waters to stage the concert” as contractually agreed upon, despite concerns over Waters’ political views or antisemitic speech.
The court ruled that Waters’ borrowed symbolism from the National Socialist movement could not be equated to glorifying Nazi deeds or identifying with Nazi racial ideology. The court also found no indication that Waters would distribute Nazi propaganda during the concert. Preventing Waters from performing at the state-owned venue would infringe his free speech rights as an artist, according to the court.
The city of Frankfurt instructed Messe Frankfurt representatives to cancel the May 29 show. Waters’ shows feature giant inflatable pigs often wearing crude slogans. Some of them in the past have the Star of David painted on them. The court says the use of such symbolism may be in “especially poor taste” but agreed that the 79-year-old is allowed to perform at the site.
“Politicians don’t have the right to intimidate artists and their fans by banning performances,” Rogers said before the case was decided. “I am fighting for all of our human rights, including the right to free speech.”
Local German news reports that cities Munich, Cologne, and Hamburg have all faced the same dilemma for stops on Waters’ “This Is Not a Drill!” tour. These cities have launched public information campaigns and held discussions about fighting antisemitism. The city of Frankfurt is expected to appeal this decision, so it may not be over yet.