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University Denounced for Showing Sign Language for ‘Jewish’ as a Hooked Nose

The same tradition was followed in some parts of France and in the Netherlands, where it has come under intense criticism, often being abandoned or rethought. The practice has lingered in Belgium, a former colonial power in Africa.

This year, Belgium banned Muslim and Jewish ways of ritually slaughtering animals, part of a clash across Europe over the balance between animal welfare and religious freedom. Animal rights advocates and right-wing nationalists both pushed for the ban on ritual slaughter, but others said the new restrictions amounted to bigotry under the guise of animal protection.

And also this year, Jews condemned a carnival in the city of Aalst, about 20 miles from Ghent, where floats displayed gross caricatures of Orthodox Jews with mice on their shoulders, sitting on bags of money.

Responding to the offensive sign language videos, Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, said: “We no longer live in an era where just because something was historically acceptable, it is still acceptable today.

“With the rise of anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic stereotypes throughout Europe, as well as the specific challenges the Jewish community is facing regarding limiting religious practice in the Belgian regions of Flanders and Wallonia, racist imagery like the hooked nose only exacerbate prejudices.”

The Flemish Sign Language Center, which helped create the dictionary in 1999 and is responsible for updating its content, said in a statement that the dictionary included signs on a “descriptive” basis, based on the state of the Flemish sign language “as it is.”

“We don’t decide ourselves whether or not a sign has its place in the dictionary,” the statement said, adding that because sign languages are visual, they often refer to “certain stereotypical visual characteristics” of people.

Source: NYT > World News

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