European Commission blasts anti-Semitic Belgian parade

European Commission says anti-Semitic floats at Aalst parade are "incompatible" with EU values.

Elad Benari ,

Anti-Semitic float at Aalst carnival
Anti-Semitic float at Aalst carnival
Reuters

The European Commission on Monday blasted a Belgian street parade for featuring anti-Semitic floats that it said were "incompatible" with EU values, AFP reported.

The Aalst carnival, a centuries-old event in central Belgium long known for mocking public figures, was held on Sunday and once again featured anti-Semitic caricatures of Jews with hooked noses, obsessed with money and dressed up like insects.

"It should indeed be self-evident that such images as what we've seen should not parade European streets, 75 years after the Shoah," a Commission spokesman, Adalbert Jahnz, told journalists, according to AFP.

He said the European Union executive had received "a number of complaints" over the Aalst event, but that it was up to Belgian national authorities to take action.

As far as the European Commission was concerned, Jahnz said, "we stand firmly against all forms of anti-Semitism" and view the parade's floats as "incompatible with the values and principles in which the EU is founded".

Commission vice-president Margaritis Schinas said the Aalst carnival was a "shame".

"It needs to stop. No place for this in Europe," Schinas wrote on Twitter.

Sunday’s carnival was also criticized by the Conference of European Rabbis (CER).

This is the second year in the row that the carnival features anti-Semitic tropes. Last year, it featured a float caricaturing Orthodox Jews with hooked noses and sitting on gold bags.

In December, UNESCO, the UN’s culture committee, withdrew the Aalst carnival from its heritage list over the anti-Semitism.

Aalst mayor Christoph D'Haese defended the event, insisting it was not anti-Semitic.

He said it was important to take the "overall context" into account, comparing the parade to a "ritual of reversal" in which over three days "the poor become rich, the rich poor, men become women and women become men".

"Here we laugh at everything - the royal family, Brexit, local and national politics and every religion - Islam, Judaism and Catholicism," he said.



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