On Sunday, Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters and actress Lea Seydoux unveiled the Musketeers Cup at the French Open. The trophy was carried into Court Philippe Chatrier hidden in a brown box and unveiled by both Waters and Seydoux before play began.
Waters didn’t let the opportunity pass without making a statement in front of fans and cameras. The musician, who has never been shy when it comes to his opinions on world politics and human rights, has a history of using his platform to send a message, either directly or indirectly. In the case of the French Open, Waters opted for a subtle approach when he donned a Palestinian keffiyeh during the ceremony.
The keffiyeh is a symbol of Palestinian nationalism and has become popular among activists as a symbol of Palestinian solidarity. The black and white scarf is one of Palestine’s most iconic symbols and is recognized the world over.
Controversy has surrounded the West’s use of the keffiyeh and the cultural appropriation involved with concert promoters, and trendy apparel stores such as Urban Outfitters and Topshop, attempting to capitalize on what they saw as a fashion trend. Most of these knockoff keffiyehs are manufactured in countries far from Palestine and serve only to lessen the impact of the message. Critics of Palestine have seen the widespread sale of the keffiyeh as an attempt to support terror, with some groups calling for stores to stop sales for this reason.
While a tennis fan unaware of the keffiyeh and the struggle of Palestinians may have missed Waters’ message completely, others were quick to note, and praise him for his show of solidarity.
Waters’ efforts have also not gone unnoticed on social media.
A history of activism
Waters has long been a supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, hoping to end the Israeli occupation of, and human rights violations against, Palestinians. Waters said, in a 2013 letter penned to fellow musicians:
Please join me and all our brothers and sisters in global civil society in proclaiming our rejection of Apartheid in Israel and occupied Palestine, by pledging not to perform or exhibit in Israel or accept any award or funding from any institution linked to the government of Israel, until such time as Israel complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.”
Palestinians have been suffering at the hands of Israeli forces for generations. The violence against them at the hands of Israeli forces has ramped up in recent months, as Gazans engaged in the Great March of Return. Since the end of March of this year, over 100 Palestinians have been killed, including medics and journalists, with thousands injured.
While BDS campaigns have recently found success in drawing attention to the plight of the Palestinians, Israel appears to be dead-set on waging another tragic war targeting Gaza. Waters’ wearing of a keffiyeh in the pubic eye may seem a small gesture in light of the impending threat from Israel, but his actions and willingness to be vocal and engage on the topic have brought the issue to the attention of countless people.
Waters also recently used his platform to draw attention to the attempted silencing of Julian Assange, who remains cut off from the world inside of Ecuador’s embassy in London. During his June 2 “Us + Them 2018” concern in Berlin, a message was displayed on the screen for all concertgoers and the world to see: “Resist the Attempted Silencing of Julian Assange.”
In April, during a concert in Barcelona, Waters addressed Syria’s White Helmets, calling the organization “fake” and a tool for Western propaganda on behalf of Syrian opposition groups, including terrorist organizations like al-Nusra Front. A member of the audience had asked Waters to address the recent chemical-weapons attack in Syria, expecting the musician to publicly condemn the Syrian government. Instead, Waters shared his honest opinion:
The White Helmets is a fake organization that exists only to create propaganda for jihadists and terrorists. That’s my belief.”
Watch | Waters address his stance on Palestine in this live Q-and-A from 2017:
Top Photo | British musician and member of the Pink Floyd band Roger Waters presentS the trophy of the men’s final match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, France, June 10, 2018. Michel Euler | AP
Emma Fiala is MPN’s Editorial Assistant and social media guru. She is also a documentary photographer, mom of two, and an independent journalist. Her stories have been featured on MintPress News, the Anti-Media, Media Roots, and Steemit. Find her on Twitter.