‘It’s going too far’: Belgian EU Commissioner backs ban on anti-Semitic carnival caricatures

Jews with the bodies of ants; rabbis with hooked noses sitting on chests of gold – for EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders, the kinds of anti-Semitic caricatures seen recently at a Belgian carnival parade go “too far” and should be banned. The 600-year-old carnival in Aalst made headlines around the world this week, sparking criticism from the Belgian prime minister, the EU and Israel. Reynders, Belgium’s former foreign minister, tells FRANCE 24’s Catherine Nicholson that this and similar events “open the door to a real orientation towards racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism”.

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In This Story: Belgium

Belgium, officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe. It is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to the southwest, and the North Sea to the northwest.

It covers an area of 30,689 km2 (11,849 sq mi) and has a population of more than 11.5 million, making it the 22nd most densely populated country in the world and the 6th most densely populated country in Europe, with a density of 376 per square kilometre (970/sq mi). The capital and largest city is Brussels; other major cities are Antwerp, Ghent, Charleroi, Liège, Bruges, Namur, and Leuven.

Legally, Belgium is a sovereign state and a federal constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system. Its institutional organization is complex and is structured on both regional and linguistic grounds. It is divided into three highly autonomous regions: the Flemish Region in the north, Wallonia in the south, and the Brussels-Capital Region.

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    France is a republic and the largest Western European nation. Through expansion and colonisation in the 17th and 18th centuries France became a great power and still retains territories around the world. It has a seat on the UN security council and is the world’s fourth most wealthy country with a high standard of living and strong cultural identity.

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    Israel, a Middle Eastern country on the Mediterranean Sea, is regarded by Jews, Christians and Muslims as the biblical Holy Land. Its most sacred sites are in Jerusalem. Within its Old City, the Temple Mount complex includes the Dome of the Rock shrine, the historic Western Wall, Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Israel’s financial hub, Tel Aviv, is known for its Bauhaus architecture and beaches. 

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