Jewish caricatures: not against the law because there was "no wish to injure"

Els Keytsman, the director of Unia, Belgium's government-funded equal opportunities centre, says that by homing in on Jewish stereotypes on a float at Aalst carnival no laws were violated.  The carnival group that caricatured people of the Jewish faith on their float during the Aalst carnival procession have been widely criticised.  The UNESCO and the European commission both attacked the portrayal.

The float representing this carnival group's sabbatical year - due to lack of funds - included two giant dolls portraying Jewish stereotypes.  The carnival group wanted to show it was having to be thrifty this year.  In Jewish circles and beyond the dolls caused offence as they were associated with anti-Semitism.  

Belgium's Jewish community demanded an apology and that the Belgian government distance itself from the float, while several influential Jewish organisations threatened to pull the diamond trade out of Antwerp.

No official complaint has now been made with the judicial authorities.  Unia's Els Keytsman: "We confronted the events with existing legislation and we believe that everything happened within the confines of the law because there was no intent to be malevolent."

Unia isn't talking the matter to court, but will mediate between the City of Aalst and the Jewish community.


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