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KKK costumes spotted at carnival in Switzerland prompt investigation: 'That is definitely taking it too far'

Second carnival racism row within a week, after Belgian parade featured antisemitic float

Adam Forrest
Friday 08 March 2019 15:00 GMT
KKK costumes spotted at carnival in Switzerland

Police in Switzerland have launched an investigation into a group seen wearing white hooded costumes resembling traditional Ku Klux Klan (KKK) outfits to a carnival.

Video captured by a witness in Brunnen shows around dozen cloaked figures carrying burning torches as they marched through the town.

The footage, shared on the Swiss website 20 Minuten, also showed the letters “KKK” emblazoned across the front of the white robes.

One passer-by said: “That is definitely taking it too far… there have to be limits.”

The police are reportedly examining the video footage and photos of the group seen at the town’s annual celebrations.

It is the second racism row at a European carnival in the space of a week, after a parade in Belgium provoked condemnation for featuring Jewish caricatures standing on piles of money.

The float in the city of Aalst’s annual feast on Sunday showed two giant male figures with large sideburns, crooked noses and shtreimels – a fur hat worn by some Orthodox Jews. One had a rat on his shoulder.

European Commission spokesperson Margaritis Schinas compared it to Nazi propaganda and urged the Belgian authorities to take action.

Belgian carnival float features puppets of smiling Jews and sacks of money

He said: “It should be obvious to all that portraying such representations in the streets of Europe is absolutely unthinkable, 74 years after the Holocaust.

“It is the responsibility of the national authorities to take the appropriate measures on the basis of the applicable law.”

The float was created by the Vismooil’n group. Belgium’s Forum of Jewish Organisations and the Coordinating Committee of Jewish Organisations in Belgium both condemned the antisemitic imagery.

Lawyer Daniel Kettiger told 20 Minuten said the white cloaks seen in Swiss town were a “faithful imitation” of the US Ku Klux Klan – an organisation which had a history of “racism against blacks”.

But he also said it would be difficult to establish criminal cases against members of the group under Switzerland’s existing anti-racism laws, because no specific race or ethnicity had necessarily been targeted by the group.

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