Israeli minister says Belgium should ban Aalst Carnival for 'vitriolic' antisemitism

Israeli minister says Belgium should ban Aalst Carnival for 'vitriolic' antisemitism
"Aalst will always remain as the capital of mockery and satire," said the mayor. © Belga

Belgium should be ashamed of the "vitriolic antisemitic" floats put on display at Aalst Carnival and ban the controversial festivity, Israel's foreign minister said Thursday.

"Belgium as a Western Democracy should be ashamed to allow such a vitriolic antisemitic display," Israel Katz said in a statement posted in English to his Twitter account.

"I call upon the authorities there to condemn and ban this hateful parade in Aalst," Katz added.

The Israeli minister is the latest critic of the Flemish city's parade, which has been repeatedly criticised and accused of antisemitism for its use of floats portraying Orthodox Jews in a stereotypical way.

In last year's edition of the three-day carnival, floats depicting Orthodox Jews with crooked noses standing atop stacks and sacks of gold coins, with one of the figures carrying a white rat on its shoulder paraded through the city's streets.

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The accusations landed the parade in hot water with UNESCO, who said the parade's use of the floats was inconsistent with values of "respect and dignity" and signalled intentions to remove it from its intangible cultural heritage list.

After attempting to defend the floats before UNESCO, Aalst's mayor refused to remove the floats from the carnival and announced the city would voluntarily give up its UNESCO credentials and defended the city's right to "mockery and satire."

"The inhabitants of Aalst suffered grotesque accusations," he said, adding: "We are neither antisemitic nor racist, all those who say the contrary are not being honest. Aalst will always remain the capital of mockery and satire."

Following news of the city's self-demotion from the UNESCO list, carnival associations said they would again put the controversial floats on display during the next edition of the event.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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