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Shocking picture shows man ‘dressed as Hitler and children wearing yellow stars at Orange Order Halloween party’ as police launch investigation

 A fancy dress party organised by a flute band in an Orange Order hall has caused outrage after it was won by a man and woman dressed as Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun while two children wore rags branded with a yellow star-shaped patch like that which Jewish people were made to wear in Nazi Germany.

Another entrant to a previous year’s party organised by the same flute band dressed as the Pope and wore a noose around their neck, tongue lolling, to depict a hanging. One young competitor painted their face black and wore an afro wig, a straw skirt and bones around their neck. Two men also clutched a soft toy clad in a child-size Celtic football strip at their crotches – which is believed to be a reference to abuse by Catholic clergy.
 The photographs posted on a public Facebook page designed to promote the activities of the Orange Order have been condemned as “hateful”, “racist” and “breathtaking in their ignorance” by the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, the Catholic Church, anti-sectarian charity Nil By Mouth and Legion Scotland, which represents veterans.

The Facebook page was removed last night but the photographs were passed to police and officers are now investigating.

The images have been uncovered two weeks after the leadership of the Orange Order gave triumphalist speeches at Glasgow Green celebrating the election of members as councillors in Scotland and talking up the UK Government’s deal with the DUP as an indication that “the future is Orange”.

The pictures were posted on the Whinhall True Blues Flute Band page and were taken at annual Halloween parties held in the Airdrie and District Orange Hall and Social Club in 2010 and 2013. Posts on the page indicate that there are “prizes on the night for best dress” and the administrator commended participants in the photographs, stating: “I can see in the albums everyone puts in the effort.”

The flute band’s Twitter account which was linked to the Facebook page was also used to promote the Halloween parties. One post said: “Whinhall does Halloween @ Airdrie orange – see who has the best dress up sense.”
 One image taken in 2013 shows a man in a Nazi uniform with a toothbrush moustache giving the Hitler salute. A woman next to him is wearing a wig in the same hairstyle as Eva Braun. Two children in front of them have dirty faces and are dressed in old clothes branded with the so-called Judenstern – a yellow star-shaped patch that Jewish people were ordered to sew on their outer garments to mark them out in Nazi Germany. A comment under the picture by the flute band’s Facebook page administrator states: “Congratulations to our joint winners!!!”

Several people have “liked” the photograph, a function used on Facebook to endorse a post.

Ephraim Borowski, director of Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, said: “The meticulously planned industrialised murder of six million people solely on the grounds of their ethnicity is not a joke, and neither is anything that glorifies those who planned it. Racism, including racism against Jewish people – anti-Semitism – must always be condemned in the strongest terms, and we would urge the Orange Order to do so.”

Other images from a Halloween party in 2010 show men dressed as Catholic clergy, and one who appears to be dressed as the Pope has a noose around his neck and is simulating a lynching. In another picture two men hold opposite ends of a child’s toy clad in a Celtic strip at their crotches.
A spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland said: “The violent imagery depicted in these photographs reflects an extremely disturbing and hateful attitude towards Catholics and other faith minorities. Last month, Scottish Government figures showed religiously aggravated crime at a four-year high. Worryingly, 57 per cent of all religious hate crime targeted Catholics or Catholicism.

“Given recent reports, Catholics may quite rightly wish to seek reassurances from their public representatives and Police Scotland that their rights and freedoms to live without fear or prejudice will be protected.”

The Facebook page also has anti-Catholic sectarian posts including a rewording of the Lord’s Prayer, which said: “Our father who art in Whinhall, The Haw be thy favourite band, Thy Taigies come, When they hear the drum, As we march down Mavisbank, Forgive us our intoxication, As we forgive those intoxicated beside us, Lead us proudly into the temptation of playing our dubious tunes all the louder.”

Director of anti-sectarian charity Nil By Mouth, Dave Scott, called on the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland to “take action” against members. He said: “These images are breathtaking in their ignorance. Anyone who thinks it is humorous to dress up like Hitler and have kids appear alongside dressed as Jewish children headed for a concentration camp lives on another planet. One wonders how former British service personnel who fought fascism and liberated men, women and children from the gas chambers in the Second World War would view this type of behaviour.

“The nasty images mocking the Pope also stand in stark contrast to the state visit The Queen provided for Pope Benedict back in 2010, the very same year the photos were taken. Again, one wonders how Her Majesty would view those who would no doubt claim to be loyal to her behaving in such a moronic fashion toward someone she welcomed as an honoured guest and friend.

“I realise that halls can be booked out for private functions and this may, or may not, have been the case here, but having these images linked to a lodge cannot do the organisation’s reputation any good. As such, I would hope the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland would take action against any members who may have been involved in this display and instruct local lodges to ensure that events within their premises adhere to its stated belief in religious and cultural liberty for all, rather than excuses to peddle hatred and ignorance as would seem to be the case here.”

A spokesman for veterans’ charity Legion Scotland said: “To trivialise such a devastating period in history in this way is both shocking and unacceptable. Now that we have been made aware of these images, we would expect them to be removed immediately out of respect for those who sacrificed so much.”

Photographs of young white people with faces and necks painted black were also posted on the Facebook page. Gillian Eunson, an education worker at the Scottish arm of charity Show Racism the Red Card, described the “practice of blacking up” as “racist behaviour, and therefore unacceptable and offensive”. She added: “Historically the practice of ‘blacking up’ was used by white entertainers, for white audiences, with the purpose of mocking black people’s skin colour and culture. Those involved should have the opportunity to learn this, face potential consequences, and re-evaluate their choices.”

The Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland declined to comment last night but after the Sunday Herald contacted the organisation the Whinhall True Blues Flute Band Facebook page was taken down. Executive officer at The Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland, Robert McLean, said: “Having sought advice and discussed with my colleagues we have no comment to make on your story.”

The Sunday Herald contacted the secretary of the Whinhall True Blues Flute Band but they did not respond to a request for comment. The Sunday Herald also went to the Airdrie and District Orange Hall and Social Club but the shutters were down and it appeared to be empty. A message to members posted on Facebook a few days earlier indicated that members were about to travel to Northern Ireland for Battle Of The Boyne commemorations.

A spokeswoman for Police Scotland said: “The information has been passed to relevant officers to establish the facts and identify any criminality. Police Scotland takes all reports of hate incidents seriously and will investigate such reports appropriately and proportionately.”

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