February 1, 2008 in Nation/World

Brazilian judge bans Holocaust float

Michael Astor Associated Press
 

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – There will be no simulated pile of naked, emaciated corpses – and no dancing Hitler – at the world’s biggest street party.

A judge on Thursday blocked a carnival float meant to show that the Holocaust “gives you goose bumps.”

Workers began dismantling the float to rebuild it for this weekend’s parade, television footage showed. Viradouro, the top Rio samba group responsible for the float, said it was designed to remind carnival-goers of past horrors to prevent them from happening again.

But Jewish leaders were outraged. The Jewish Federation of Rio de Janeiro sued under federal laws prohibiting Nazi propaganda and racism in Brazil.

“It’s inadmissible that they could have a parade float depicting dead Jews and a live Hitler on top of them,” said federation spokesman Jose Roitberg.

Rio de Janeiro state Judge Juliana Kalichszteim called the float a “clear trivialization of barbaric events.”

Carnival “should not be used as a tool for the cult of hate, any form of racism,” the judge said.

Rio’s two-night Samba parade, featuring thousands of scantily clad and elaborately plumed dancers, is the high point of Brazil’s carnival celebrations and is televised nationally in a country of 185 million people.

During the event, Rio’s 12 top-tier samba groups each present an 80-minute parade featuring hundreds of drummers and thousands of dancers to compete to be the year’s champion.

Each group chooses a theme reflected in music, costumes and floats. Viradouro, which is scheduled to parade early Monday, chose the theme, “It Gives You Goose Bumps,” featuring floats depicting the shock of birth and cold, along with the pile of Holocaust victims.

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