(Brussels, 24 February 2020) – The European Jewish Congress expresses outrage at the appalling mass display of open antisemitism during carnival celebrations in the Belgian city of Aalst and stands in solidarity with its affiliate, the Coordinating Committee of Belgian Jewish Organisations (CCOJB).
As was the case in 2019, and despite multiple condemnations and calls to action, the Aalst city council refused to prevent racist and antisemitic imagery, as well as conspiracy theories to be paraded around the city during carnival.
“By allowing this shocking public festival of hatred to take place, the Aalst city council and the organisers have demonstrated that their carnival is not only unworthy of the label of Intangible Cultural Heritage, but that it must be singled out for international condemnation”, said EJC President Dr. Moshe Kantor. “The Aalst Carnival is now globally notorious for antisemitism and racism, and unless concrete actions are taken to rid the carnival of this shameful imagery, those responsible will have tainted their own tradition.”
For his part, Yohan Benizri, President of the CCOJB and EJC Vice President praised the actions of public figures in Belgium including Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès and numerous party leaders, who denounced the unacceptable excesses of the Aalst Carnival: “Antisemitism, just like racism, is everyone’s problem and this is something that cannot be stressed enough. We are united against those who confuse freedom of expression with gleeful provocation, regardless of whether their actions are grounds for criminal prosecution or not.”