Judge bans Holocaust-themed Rio Carnival float

Thu Jan 31, 2008 11:54am EST
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By Pedro Fonseca

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - A Brazilian judge barred a samba group on Thursday from featuring a Holocaust display and a dancer dressed as Adolf Hitler in its Carnival parade after fierce complaints from Jewish groups.

State judge Juliana Kalichszteim ruled the Viradouro samba group, or school, would be subject to a $110,000 fine for the float and $28,000 for the Hitler impersonation if it went ahead with its original parade plan.

"Carnival should not be used as an instrument of hatred, any kind of racism and clear trivialization or barbaric and unjustified acts against minorities," the judge said.

Viradouro planned to feature a tableau of a pile of dead model bodies when it marches in the Sambadrome stadium on Sunday night.

The globally televised parades, led by virtually naked Carnival queens and featuring thousands of dancers and drummers, are the highlight of the celebrations in Rio de Janeiro.

The official script also said an actor would pose as Nazi leader Hitler on the float.

Viradouro officials said they have not yet received the judge's ruling and would decide later whether to appeal.

The Israelite Federation in Rio de Janeiro state was the first to object earlier this week and was later joined by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a prominent international Jewish human rights group.   Continued...

<p>A worker prepares a carnival float depicting the Holocaust, at the Viradouro samba school's warehouse in Rio de Janeiro January 28, 2008. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes</p>