UNESCO to vote on cutting ties with Belgian carnival where Jews mocked
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UNESCO to vote on cutting ties with Belgian carnival where Jews mocked

United Nations body will decide if it should distance itself from the Aalst parade, in which a float appears with an effigy of grinning Jews holding money

A carnival float which was paraded through the centre of a Belgian city (Credit: Pen News)
A carnival float which was paraded through the centre of a Belgian city (Credit: Pen News)

The annual parade in Belgium that this year featured a float with effigies of grinning Jews holding money with rats on their shoulders is formally facing removal of its UNESCO credentials.

A vote is scheduled for next month on the removal of the Aalst carnival from the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, according to the agenda published this week for a meeting in Colombia of UNESCO’s committee responsible for the list.

The committee “decides to remove the Aalst carnival,” the draft resolution reads.

It is the first time that a place or event has been put forth for delisting.

The draft resolution lists the 2019 edition, which provoked outrage and accusations of antisemitism, and several other cases, including a float in 2009 that featured men dressed like Orthodox Jews wearing fake hooked noses and Palestinian symbols.

The 2013 edition had revellers dressed like Nazis holding canisters labelled “Zyklon B” walking along caged revellers dressed like Nazi concentration camp prisoners. Zyklon B was a poison the Nazis used to kills Jews in gas chambers.

“These acts, whether or not intentional, contradict the requirements of mutual respect among communities, groups and individuals,” states the draft, adding this violates the organisation’s charter.

Aalst’s mayor and carnival organisers have dismissed all criticism of the 2019 float and previous ones, citing freedom of expression and parody.

Representatives from 66 countries, including Belgium, Russia, France and the Palestinian Authority, will cast their vote in the Colombia meeting.

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