Commotion surrounding a float with Jewish caricatures set the ball rolling. Dolls representing Jews had been built displayed hooked noses and pipe curls and were accompanied by a big chest of cash. The carnival group that built the float wanted to show they were hard up and were taking a sabbatical and would return with a nicer float next year.
The float was criticised at home and abroad. UNESCO said that freedom of speech should form an excuse to propagate hate. It was added that the caricatures lacked respect and were in violation of the spirit of intangible heritage. UNESCO then decided to consider whether Aalst Carnival should be removed from the list.