Israeli Foreign Minister calls for Aalst Carnival to be banned

The Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz has call on the authorities in Belgium to condemn and ban the carnival in the East Flemish city of Aalst. Mr Katz made his call on the social media site Twitter

"Belgium as a western democracy should be ashamed to allow such a vitriolic anti-Semitic display. I call upon the authorities there to condemn and ban this hateful parade in Aalst”, Mr Katz wrote.

Last year Aalst Carnival was at the centre of storm of controversy after one of the carnival group’s floats featured caricatures of Jewish people with hooked noses accompanied by a large chest full of money. Mr Katz message also featured a photograph of the controversial float.  

There was not only criticism from the Jewish community but also from UNESCO that said that the caricatures lacked respect. In December the UN organisation scrapped the carnival from its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Mr Katz then applauded UNESCO’s decision.

On Wednesday MEPs that are members of a working party on anti-Semitism wrote in an open letter that they have “big concerns” about the event.  They called on the city authorities in Aalst and the organisers of the carnival to take action.

The controversy is likely to mean that this year’s carnival will feature a multitude of floats featuring caricatures of Jews. A number of carnival groups have already hinted that this will be the case and added that they demand freedom of speech and expression.

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