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UNESCO to Vote on Removing Belgian Carnival From World Heritage List Over Anti-Semitism – Report

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The annual parade repeatedly featured floats mocking Jewish culture, says the draft resolution. The local mayor says all participants are allowed freedom of expression.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is set to hold a vote next month on a resolution that proposes excluding the Belgian annual parade in the town of Aalst where Jews are mocked, The Times of Israel reported.

Photos and videos made at the parade in March show effigies depicting grinning orthodox Jews in traditional costumes with money bags and white rats riding on their shoulders.

​The draft resolution reviewed by the Times says the festival should be removed from UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, which would mark the first time in history that a place or an event has been removed from the list.

According to the Times, the resolution lists several parades which took place over the last decade, all of which were alleged to contain expressions of anti-Semitism. 

In 2009, a float included men dressed like Orthodox Jews wearing fake hooked noses and Palestinian symbols.

The 2013 parade took it further, as one float reportedly featured revelers dressed like Nazis holding ‘Zyklon B’ gas canisters (representing what was used by the Nazis to kill Jews) next to revelers dressed as concentration camp prisoners in cages.

“These acts, whether or not intentional, contradict the requirements of mutual respect among communities, groups and individuals,” the draft reads, adding that the alleged displays of anti-Semitism violates organizational rules.

The mayor of Aalst has dismissed the criticism, saying parade participants must be permitted freedom of expression and parody, the Times report says.

The vote, scheduled for next month, will be decided by the representatives of 66 parties, including Belgium, Russia, France and the Palestinian Authoritiy, during a meeting in Colombia.

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