UNESCO Paris Headquarters, 21 March 2019

At the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity Bureau meeting this morning at UNESCO, the Wiesenthal Centre’s Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, congratulated Bureau Chair Ambassador of Colombia and the Ambassador of Austria for leading support for a strong resolution condemning the Belgian Aalst Carnival antisemitic float. 

21 March 2019
Left to right: Dr. Claudia Reinprecht, Austrian Ambassador to UNESCO,
Dr. Samuels , Dr. Anna Steiner, European and International Cultural Policy
Department of the Austrian Federal Chancellery.

“In response to the Wiesenthal Centre’s demand for action by UNESCO, to deprive the ‘Aalst Carnival’ of its Intangible Cultural Heritage status, the outrageous float portraying Orthodox Jews, seated on gold coins, among rats, was today deemed by the Bureau as 'pure and simple antisemitism’,” asserted Samuels.

Poland supported the Austrian position, while “Palestine” and others added a paragraph to the draft resolution on “racism and Islamophobia.”

The six member-state body (Austria, Colombia, “Palestine,” the Philippines, Poland and Zambia), proposed that the Bureau’s resolution be presented at the Intangible Cultural Heritage larger Committee meeting, in Bogotà, Colombia, next December.

To launch proceedings for the Aalst Carnival to be delisted sets a precedent in the Committee’s 26 year history.

Samuels shared the Centre’s position also with UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture, Ernesto Ottone, who last week publicly condemned the float. The Intangible Heritage Committee Director, Timothy Curtis, also expressed sympathy. The Ambassador of Belgium indicated that judicial measures are under consideration to penalize the Carnival.