On Tuesday, August 9, Justin Bieber’s performance in his Helsinki, Finland concert received much criticism after he appeared to do a “goose step march.” The Sorry hitmaker further did what appeared to be the Nazi salute known as “Sieg Heil.”
At the concert, Bieber used the gesture and the step in front of around 20,000 attendees. According to The Times of Israel’s religious and diaspora affairs correspondent, Judah Ari Gross, the Conference of European Rabbis has condemned his usage of the step along with the Sieg Heil.
Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Jewish organization Conference of European Rabbis, told the Times of Israel:
“The famous singer slapped the faces of millions of Jews worldwide when he chose to perform the ‘sieg heil’ movement that symbolizes identification with Nazi party values.”
Goldschmidt further called for Israel to ban Justin Bieber’s upcoming concert in the country but the organizers rejected his demand and stated:
“These are dance moves…Dance moves are meant to entertain. Not everything has to do with the Jewish people…”
Justin Bieber’s “goose step march” controversy
In the August 9 concert, Justin Bieber appeared to do the “goose step” march, which resembled the march of many military services across the world that use this crucial step in their parades. This type of marching exemplifies an excessive articulation of the limbs while walking in formation. The limbs move in a synchronized manner, with the legs and arms being as straightened as possible.
However, since Bieber’s knees were bent while he marched, it is clear that he did not intend to do the goose step march.
Yet, Justin Bieber seems to have received most of the flak over how he held his handheld microphone while performing the goose step march. As his right arm, holding the microphone, was perpendicular to his legs, this seemed to have come across as resembling the marches of Nazi soldiers.
The Nazi parade mandated soldiers to move in unison with the goose step march while their right arms were extended in a horizontally straight manner. The gesture done by their right arm was referred to as the Sieg Heil salute, which originated in the Nazi Germany era.
According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the “Goose step” originated in 1806 in the context of military usage. Thus, the term predates the Nazi party and their oppression of Jews. However, some western nations still associate the marching step with the Nazis.
Meanwhile, the Sieg Heil gesture has always been associated with the Nazi salute and is currently banned in many countries like Germany, Austria, Poland, and Slovakia. In a few other European countries, the gesture is only illegal when used with the intent to promote Nazi ideology.
While not precisely known about the laws regarding the display of the Sieg Heil in Finland, it is expected to be looked down upon and and can invite legal penalties. Last year, the majority of the Finnish party supported the ban on the public display of Nazi Swastika flags. Thus, it clarifies that Finland’s government would not be pleased with anyone who would intend to promote Nazi ideologies with the Sieg Heil salute.
Netizens react to Justin Bieber’s alleged use of the Sieg Heil salute during performances
While Bieber was slammed by many, some argued that it is possible that Justin Bieber did not intend to have his gesture resemble that of the Nazi salute. The argument in defense of Bieber stated that, the 28-year-old held the microphone in his hand while it was raised. Since a Sieg Heil is mostly done with a flat palm, thus, Bieber’s gesture did not accurately represent the salute.
A legion of tweets alleged that Justin Bieber did not perform the Nazi salute or their march and claimed that his gesture and gait were common in on-stage concerts.