A dozen Jewish organizations in the Netherlands demand a thorough investigation of the Aalst Carnival parade.
Despite its request for greater empathyafter last year’s parade, the parade again displayed hurtful caricatures paraded on the streets of the Flemish city, including several worn by festival-goers.
The call for an investigation was sent through a letter which had been signed by Deputies of four Dutch political parties and forwarded to the Belgian ambassador in The Hague.
Aalst again received international criticism after all kinds of Jewish caricatures appeared in the procession of the Carnival.
“There is an essential difference between the evocation of a stereotypical caricature and the evocation of a stereotypical caricature that is hostile and derogatory,” according to the signatories.
This year, the displays were “charged with a rich history of propaganda and provocation,” says the letter.
“Caricatures of Jews with angry faces, surrounded by gold bars, or even reduced to the status of vermin are things that we should only learn through history books on racism in medieval kingdoms, or in Russian tsarist and Nazi propaganda.”
The organisations and politicians ask Belgian authorities to take action against the use of anti-Semitic displays.
“Since the principles of the fight against anti-Semitism have been compromised by this Carnival, a thorough investigation on possible discrimination that is punishable under Belgian law is at the least necessary.”
The letter was signed by ten Dutch Jewish and interfaith associations, as well as by national politicians from GroenLinks, ChristenUnie (Christian democrats), D66 (liberal socialists) and SGP (Christian conservatives).
The city of Aalst was severely criticized last year as a result of the use of Jewish stereotypes.
This year, 25 complaints were received by Unia, Belgium’s Inter-federal Centre for Equality against Discrimination.
Unia’s Director Patrick Charlier added that the Mayor of Aalst, Christoph D’Haese declined on three occasions to meet with members of the Jewish organizations.
Unia is in contact with police and prosecutors to check whether legal proceedings have been initiated on the basis of the 25 complaints registered in Belgium.