Annual Belgian carnival plagued by anti-semitism

Posted by Leila Stein on 25 February 2020

The city of Aalst in Belgium has begun celebrating it’s annual parade which includes anti-semitic caricatures.

The parade, which dates back to the Middle Ages, often features satirical floats which mock politicians and the wealthy. However, it has come under fire for featuring heavily anti-semitic elements including floats featuring orthodox Jews with exaggerated noses standing on bags of money.

This year, festival goers were seen dressed up as Nazis as well as orthodox Jews depicted as flies. In addition, the parade featured a mock ‘wailing wall’, considered a response to the outcry against the parade.

Despite global condemnation, including from the Israeli government, the parade has gone ahead. Israel’s foreign minister, Israel Katz, called for the authorities to ‘condemn and ban this hateful parade in Aalst’.

‘Belgium as a western democracy should be ashamed to allow such a vitriolic antisemitic display,’ Katz tweeted.

Despite Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès saying that the parade is an ‘internal affair’, she condemned the offensive costumes and explained they harm the overall festivities.

However, the Aalst mayor’s spokesperson told BBC the carnival is meant to celebrate free speech and not harm anyone. ‘It’s our parade, our humour, people can do whatever they want,’ he said.

Last year, the carnival felt it’s first repercussions when UNESCO removed it from the list of intangible cultural heritage after it found it guilty of ‘recurring repetition of racist and antisemitic representations’.

Image: @henmazzig/Twitter

 






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