Tuesday, 19 Nov 2019 - 21 of Heshvan, 5780

Simon Wiesenthal Centre urges newly appointed Belgian PM to act against antisemitic carnival float

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“As the first woman and Jewish Prime Minister of Belgium, we know of your commitment to fight antisemitism and Holocaust. We urge you to direct your Foreign Ministry to encourage the Intangible Cultural Heritage member-States to delist Aalst at the Bogota assembly and to take appropriate punitive measures against apparent recidivist incitement at home,” wrote Shimon Samuels in a letter to Sophie Wilmes.

PARIS—The Simon Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations, Shimon Samuels, has urged the newly appointed Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes ‘’to  direct your Foreign Ministry to encourage the UNESCO (UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Intangible Cultural Heritage member-States to delist the Aalst carnival at the Bogota assembly in  December and to take appropriate punitive measures against apparent recidivist incitement at home.”

In a letter to Wilmes, Samuels brought to her attention “the international outrage at the antisemitic floats at the Aalst Carnaval.’’

He mentioned that in 2013, actors playing SS with their victims in blue and white striped concentration camp garb with cannisters marked Zyklon B gas and that earlier this year the float displayed Jews in Orthodox garb grasping gold coins and carrying rats, redolent of Nazi propaganda film and publications.

Two weeks ago, the Aalst Carnaval organisers released ribbons for the carnival 2020 edition, which will focus on ‘UNESCO and the Jews’, under the slogan, ‘UNESCO, What a Farce’.

UNESCO has already invited the Belgian ambassador to the organization to explain the controversial ribbons.

“We are calling for Aalst to be delisted at the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Assembly in Bogotá Colombia in December,” Samuels wrote in his letter.

The Centre advised the Prime Minister that “while most of the Bureau member-States have recommended delisting, we are aware that Belgium officials are, reportedly lobbying for a simple rebuke”, he added.

“As the first woman and Jewish Prime Minister of Belgium, we know of your commitment to fight antisemitism and Holocaust,’’ Samuels concluded. We urge you to direct your Foreign Ministry to encourage the Intangible Cultural Heritage member-States to delist Aalst at the Bogotá assembly and to take appropriate punitive measures against apparent recidivist incitement at home”, concluded Samuels.

Asked for a reaction by EJP, a spokesperson for the Belgian Prime Minister didn’t respond.

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