Wednesday, 11 Dec 2019 - 13 of Kislev, 5780

UNESCO committee to decide in Bogota whether to remove Aalst Carnival from the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage for displaying antisemitic floats

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A decision whether to de-list the carnival will be taken during the annual meeting of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage that will be held from 9 to 14 December in Bogota, Colombia.

PARIS—UNESCO, the Paris-based United Nations agency for education and culture , is set to examine next month several requests to remove the  Aalst Carnival in Belgium from its Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity after it displayed racist and anti-Semitic floats earlier this year.

At its annual parade in March, the Carnival of Aalst, a city located 20 km west of Brussels, displayed giant puppets depicting Orthodox Jews with hooked noses standing on chests of money surrounded by rats.

In view of the 2020 parade edition, organizers of  the Carnival released last month  ribbons for participants making fun of UNESCO and Jews. The 150 ribbons depicted stereotypical anti-semitic caricatures of Jews with scullcaps, ringlet side curls, hooked noses and even gold teeth, all standing on an imitation of the UNESCO logo.

UNESCO condemned the display of such antisemitic floats at the parade as did the European Commission.

Several Jewish groups in Belgium and abroad have complained and urged UNESCO to de-list the Carnival

A decision whether to de-list the carnival will be taken during the annual meeting of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage that will be held from 9 to 14 December in Bogota, Colombia.

UNESCO announced this week that as part of the follow-up of elements inscribed on the intangible cultural heritage lists, the committee will raise the case of the carnival of Aalst which is on the list since 2010. The Committee is composed of representatives of 24 states parties to the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. It monitors the implementation of this international legal instrument, which has been ratified by 178 States.

In 2013 already, Jewish groups protested against the display at the carnival of floats showing actors playing SS with their victims in blue and white striped concentration camp garb with cannisters marked Zyklon B gas, in scenes reminiscent of the deportation of Jews by the Nazis.

The French Director General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, who is Jewish, will attend the Bogota committee meeting.

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