Social media users were shocked and appalled to see grotesque puppets of Orthodox Jews in pink suits and giant hats, and a rat atop money bags at the world-famous Aalst Carnival in Belgium.
Many accused Belgium of showing the “ugly face of anti-Semitism”, while several groups representing Flemish and French-speaking Jews in the country complained to the federal UNIA watchdog: “In a democracy like Belgium, there is no room for such things, carnival or not”.
A picture sent to me by a friend from #Belgium.— Arsen Ostrovsky (@Ostrov_A) 4 марта 2019 г.
This was from #AalstCarnaval yesterday. Sick #Antisemitism at its worst.
Will the Beligian authorities take action? @BelgiuminIsrael pic.twitter.com/J5B1tedGA1
A parade float at the Aalst Carnaval in Belgium featuring caricatures of Orthodox Jews atop money bags and rats, March 3, 2019.— United With Israel (@UniteWithIsrael) 5 марта 2019 г.
The world is an insane place. pic.twitter.com/y28Tmj5IKo
Wicked people whose sick minds produce pure evil. This is Europe 2019. #Belgium #Aalst #Carnival2019— Marilyn Stowe (@marilynstowe) 4 марта 2019 г.
Belgian carnival float features puppets of grinning Jews, a rat and money bags — Jewish Telegraphic Agency https://t.co/jtCko806RT
Are the levels of antisemitism in Belgium so high that the people who created this affront to human decency felt it would pass without any negative consequences for them?— Anna Goldberg (@AnnaTheWise1) 5 марта 2019 г.
Are there anti-discrimination Laws in Belgium that will be applied here? 2/3
Ugly face of #Antisemitism shows it's face in #Aalst #Belgium, as depiction of orthodox Jews standing on sacks of money, paraded through the town. @IsraelinBelgium @BelgiuminIsrael #Jewish #jewishcommunity #Antisemitismus #AalstCarnaval pic.twitter.com/qRgtoq61Q2— Eran Cicurel (@EranCicurel) 5 марта 2019 г.
Aside from floating Jewish figures, the procession also featured people wearing Ku Klux Klan (KKK) outfits and blackface:
HATE FEST: A UNESCO supported carnival in Aalst Belgium on Sunday paraded antisemitic caricatures of Orthodox Jews sitting on money bags next to a rat, men in KKK outfits, and people wearing #blackface as thousands cheered and laughed. pic.twitter.com/xu3JGqW0ue— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) 4 марта 2019 г.
The fact that the Aalst Carnival, the origin of which can be traced back to the Middles Ages, was included in UNESCO’s list of intangible world heritage in 2010, has become another reason for netizens to vent their anger:
No surprise this carnival is “Recognized by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”. Hope the UN is proud.— Wise Man (@wisenheimer0075) 5 марта 2019 г.
DISGRACEFUL but NOT SHOCKING as Belgium is CLOSE to being an ISLAMIC STATE— M.L.Martin (@mikeyscot) 4 марта 2019 г.
Some social media users, however, thought there was nothing wrong with poking fun at such things, and that it was the whole point of the carnival by definition:
If your friend would send pictures of the whole parade you will see that in this "carnival" everything is laughed at, Muslims, Christians, politicians, royals…………— bart callebaut (@bartc1971) 4 марта 2019 г.
WTF I Love Belgium now— John Wick White (@JohnWickWhite1) 4 марта 2019 г.
We need a National "Make fun of whatever you want (jokingly)" day, free of repercussions. No limits, have thick skin & laugh at what you think is funny.— Throw the next pitch⭕ (@pitcherscircle) 4 марта 2019 г.
Their country, their carnival, their rules— 🇺🇸 (@mtayanella) 4 марта 2019 г.
Can't be called racist if you mock all the races.— Jack Belton (@ButtonFlyOnly) 4 марта 2019 г.