Belgian city says that carnival with Jewish caricatures is ‘just fun’ after being compared to Nazi anti-Semitism
- Mayor of Aalst has defended his controversial carnival with Jewish caricatures
- Mayor spokesperson insisted that it was “free speech” and did not want to harm anyone
- Comes after his UN status was removed after complaints of anti-Semitism in 2019
A Belgian city has defended its controversial carnival with Jewish caricatures and says it is ‘just fun’.
A spokesperson for the mayor of Aalst, Christoph D’Haese, insisted that the event is ‘just our humor … just fun’.
The annual parade made headlines when it became the first cultural tradition to be stripped of its UN heritage status at the end of last year.
On the float stood two men with padlocks and crooked noses that wore strokes, a fur hat favored by some Orthodox Jews, while sitting on top of piles of money
The city of Alast, in Belgium, was destroyed for “Nazi-style” anti-Semitism after this float with hurtful Jewish stereotypes took part in its annual carnival
The annual Aalst Carnival was removed from the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage at a 24-country meeting in the capital of Colombia on December 13.
Peter Van den Bossche, spokesperson for the mayor, defended the carnival and told the BBC: “It’s our parade, our humor, people can do whatever they want.”
“It’s a weekend of freedom of speech,” he added.
Van den Bossche also said ‘there is no movement behind it’ and ‘we don’t want to harm anyone’.
The annual Aalst carnival caused international outrage when a float, called ‘Nazi style’, was paraded in Aalst in East Flanders last year.
The spokesman for the mayor Peter Van den Bossche has defended the carnival and told the BBC: “It is our parade, our humor, people can do what they want”
Ernesto Ottone, assistant director-general for culture of UNESCO, said after the ruling that the festival can go on, but without being associated with them because it is “mockery of some communities”
On the float stood two men with padlocks and crooked noses that wore crumbs, a fur hat favored by some Orthodox Jews, sitting on top of piles of money. It was created by the Vismooil’n group, which regularly participates in the carnival in Aalst.
Ernesto Ottone, assistant director-general for culture of UNESCO, said after the ruling that the festival can go on, but without being associated with them because it is “mockery of some communities.”
The tracker has not taken action on warnings that ‘would draw a line’ on which trackers and displays are acceptable, according to Mr. Ottone.
Mayor of Aalst, Christoph D’Haese, has previously pushed back the ‘grotesque’ criticism of the carnival and claimed that it was not his job to control humor.
He said, “We are on a very dangerous slippery slope when people will be able to decide what to laugh about.”
In a statement, rebellious town hall leaders were not apologetic about the portrayal of Jews in the annual parade
The Belgian Forum of Jewish Organizations, which compared the depiction of the parade of Jews with that in the Nazi propaganda, said: “This means that future anti-Semitic excesses will no longer be legitimized by this UN organization.”
In a statement, rebellious town hall leaders were not apologetic about the portrayal of Jews in the annual parade.
“The residents of Aalst have had the grotesque accusations,” the statement said.
“We are not anti-Semites or racists. Whoever says we are, does so in bad faith. Aalst will always remain the capital of ridicule and satire. Whatever happens, we will assist our humorists.
‘The people of Aalst are the bravest. That is why we take the initiative and walk away from the recognition of UNESCO. “