Participants in a street celebration in the Belgian city of Aalst on Sunday paraded giant puppets of Orthodox Jews and a rat atop money bags, prompting Dutch Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs to condemn the act as “shocking, typical, anti-Semitic caricatures from 1939.”
The umbrella groups representing Flemish and French-speaking Jews in Belgium, FJO and CCOJB respectively, complained to the federal UNIA watchdog on racism about the display. “In a democracy like Belgium, there is no room for such things, carnival or not,” they wrote.
The group Vismooil’n created the two puppets as their 2019 theme for the Aalst carnival, the local edition of celebrations that take place throughout parts of Europe and Latin America annually, in anticipation of Lent, the 40-day period before Easter. Participants prepare floats and dance routines, parading them through town on Carnival.