A Belgian city has defended as “just fun” a carnival featuring caricatures of Orthodox Jews wearing huge fur hats, long fake noses and ant costumes.
Israel, Jewish groups and Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès were among many who strongly condemned the costumes in Sunday’s parade in Aalst.
Some critics said likening Jews to ants was similar to Nazi anti-Semitism, which persecuted Jews as “vermin”.
The Aalst mayor’s spokesman told the BBC “it’s our humour… just fun”.
Peter Van den Bossche said “there isn’t a movement behind it” and “we don’t wish harm to anyone”.
“It’s our parade, our humour, people can do whatever they want,” he said. “It’s a weekend of freedom of speech.”