BRUSSELS – Aalst investigation request

A dozen Jewish organisations in the Netherlands and Dutch politicians ask the police to investigate anti-Jewish displays of the Aalst Carnival parade, demanding that the Belgian authorities take action against the initiators.

The action comes as, a year after sparking controversy and a wave of international protests over anti-Semitism, the Aalst Carnival organisers brought back anti-Semitic caricatures to this year’s annual parade, causing international outrage over the displays.

For the first time, Belgium’s prime minister had stepped into the debate and asked legal institutions to determine if the laws had been broken.

The Dutch call for an investigation was sent in the form of a letter signed by ten Dutch Jewish and interfaith associations politicians of four Dutch political parties, GroenLinks, Christian-democrat ChristenUnie, liberal D66 and Christian-conservative SGP, and forwarded to the Belgian ambassador in The Hague.

“There is an essential difference between the evocation of a stereotypical caricature and the evocation of a stereotypical caricature that is hostile and derogatory,” the signatories of the letter said, adding that this year’s displays were “charged with a rich history of propaganda and provocation”.

“Caricatures of Jews with angry faces, surrounded by gold bars, or even reduced to the status of vermin are things that we should only learn through history books on racism in medieval kingdoms, or in Russian tsarist and Nazi propaganda,” the letter continues.

According to Unia, Belgium’s Inter-federal Centre for Equality against Discrimination, this year the organisation received 25 complaints in total in connection with the Aalst carnival.

(Alexandra Brzozowski |

Also on the Aalst controversy, read: The Brief – Was darf Satire?

Subscribe to our newsletters