Thursday, 22 Oct 2020 - 4 of Heshvan, 5781

No antisemitic carnival parade in Belgium’s Aalst in February next year

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The announcement came one day after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, in her State of the Union address to the European Parliament, condemned the Carnival. As she denounced racism and discrimination on the continent, she asked: “Where is the essence of humanity when anti-Semitic carnival costumes parade openly on our streets?”

The Aalst Carnival, which had made headlines for its anti-Semitic displays, will not take place in February next tear as usual because of the coronavirus, the city’s mayor Christoph D’Haese announced.

The announcement came one day after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, in her state of the union address to the European Parliament, condemned the Carnival. As she denonced racism and discrimination on the continent, she asked: “Where is the essence of humanity when anti-Semitic carnival costumes parade openly on our streets?”

The Aalst carnival, a centuries-old event long known for mocking public figures, has in recent years displayed insulting and derogatory depictions of Jews. Last February, despite calls by Jewish organisations and Israel to prohibit such displays, the parade included floats caricaturing Jews with hooked noses, obsessed with money and dressed up like insects.

Last year the carnival lost its place on a UNESCO cultural heritage list because of anti-Semitism and the European Commission slammed the street parade as “incompatible” with EU values.

Aaalst Mayor reacted Thursday by saying that he was ‘’not pleased’’ with Von der Leyen’s speech. “We have nothing to do with hatred and racism,” he said.

“If Mrs Von der Leyen has descended from her ivory tower for a moment, she may be able to obtain information about this from the European Council President: Charles Michel (then Belgian Prime Minister) was officially a guest at Aalst carnival in 2015, and to my knowledge he has no shortage of humanity, let alone any form of hatred or racism, ” the mayor added.

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