After attacks, Antwerp Jews told not to wear Purim masks
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After attacks, Antwerp Jews told not to wear Purim masks

With Belgium on high terror alert, Jewish community cancels events, urges locals not to carry toy guns, use firecrackers

Extra police deploy in Belgium after a May 2014 attack at the Jewish museum in Brussels. (Joods Actueel/Flash90)
Extra police deploy in Belgium after a May 2014 attack at the Jewish museum in Brussels. (Joods Actueel/Flash90)

The crisis management center of the Jewish community of Antwerp urged locals not to wear masks on Purim following Tuesday’s terrorist attacks in Brussels.

In addition to this instruction, the Jewish Crisis Management Team in Antwerp requested in an announcement published Tuesday that revelers, including children, refrain from carrying toy weapons or using firecrackers or any other device which produces loud bangs.

“With the police and army on very high alert, all these cause confusion and are potentially dangerous,” the announcement read.

Antwerp’s Jewish quarter is among a handful of areas in Western Europe where the holiday of Purim, often referred to in Belgium as “the Jewish carnival,” is celebrated publicly on the street. Thousands of members of the city’s large ultra-Orthodox community take to the streets in colorful costumes on Purim.

A woman reacts at a makeshift memorial in front of the stock exchange at the Place de la Bourse (Beursplein) in Brussels on March 22, 2016, following triple bomb attacks in the Belgian capital that killed about 35 people and left more than 200 people wounded.(AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD)
A woman reacts at a makeshift memorial in front of the stock exchange at the Place de la Bourse (Beursplein) in Brussels on March 22, 2016, following triple bomb attacks in the Belgian capital that killed about 31 people and left hundreds wounded. (AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD)

The unusual announcement follows the terrorist attacks at Brussels’ main airport, where some 14 people were killed, and at a Brussels metro station, where at least another 17 died.

A concert planned for Antwerp featuring the Gat Brothers, popular Hasidic singers from Israel, was cancelled after the singers, who were en route to Belgium when the attacks happened, were redirected to the airport of Liege south of Brussels, the website Kikar Hashabbat reported.

Two large Purim events planned for Brussels also were cancelled.

A victim receives first aid by rescuers, on March 22, 2016 near Maalbeek metro station in Brussels, after a blast at this station near the EU institutions caused deaths and injuries. (AFP PHOTO / EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP / EMMANUEL DUNAND)
A victim receives first aid by rescuers, on March 22, 2016 near Maalbeek metro station in Brussels, after a blast at this station near the EU institutions caused deaths and injuries. (AFP PHOTO / EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP / EMMANUEL DUNAND)
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