(photo credit: REUTERS)
In a concert last Friday in Barcelona, former Pink Floyd leader Roger Waters launched into a tirade against a Syrian volunteer group called the White Helmets that does search and rescue in rebel-held areas. He called them a “fake organization” that created propaganda for “jihadists and terrorists.” He then claimed by that listening to the “propaganda of the White Helmets and others, we would be encouraged to encourage our governments to go and start dropping bombs on people in Syria.”
The video of Waters’s statement was posted on Youtube by a group called Hands Off Syria. It showed Waters at a concert in his “Us+Them” 2018 tour.
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Waters begins by claiming that someone had wanted to come on stage and make a speech about the chemical-weapons attack in Douma: “He is one voice. I personally think he is entirely wrong, I believe the organization that he purports to represent and who he supports, the White Helmets, are a fake organization that is creating propaganda for jihadists and terrorists – that’s what I believe.”
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The White Helmets group was the subject of a 2017 documentary and was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize that same year.
Waters claimed that listening to “propaganda” of the White Helmets about the chemical weapons attack would lead to the bombing of Syria. The US, UK and France launched air strikes in the early morning hours of April 14, after the Barcelona concert.
“This would be a mistake of monumental proportions, in terms of us as human beings,” Waters said. “What we should do is be persuading our governments not to go and drop bombs on people – and certainly not until we have done all the research that is necessary, so that we have a clear idea of what is going on.” He claimed that “we live in a world where propaganda appears to be more important than the reality of what is going on in places.”
Opposition in the West to the air strikes in Syria has taken many forms. Waters was accused of “echoing Russian propaganda” in The New Arab
, an online publication. Idrees Ahmad, a lecturer in digital journalist at Scotland’s University of Stirling and a contributing editor at the Los Angeles Review of Books
, wrote on Twitter that Waters “debuts a new career as a conspiracist crank promoting racist slurs against Syrian first responders.”
Janine di Giovanni, an Edward Murrow Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the musician’s comments were disappointing. “I love Pink Floyd as musicians. But WTF does Roger Waters know about Syria? He once promoted the Palestine [sic] cause. Now he’s promoting [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s propaganda,” she tweeted Saturday.
Waters has been a long-time supporter of BDS against Israel and encourages other musicians to boycott the country.