THE Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland has hit out against the “demonisation” of “Protestant culture and heritage” after images emerged of members dressed as Hitler and Jewish children.

The pictures were posted on social media accounts held by the Whinhall True Blues Flute Band, which stages fancy dress events at the Airdrie and District Orange Hall and Social Club.

They show a man and woman dressed as Hitler and Eva Braun, with two youngsters wearing ripped clothes and yellow Judenstern – used to mark Jews in Nazi Germany.

Others show a man dressed as the Pope with a noose around his neck, men holding a soft toy clad in a Celtic strip to their crotches and someone in blackface make-up wearing an afro wig with a bone necklace.

The images, taken in 2013 and 2010 and used to promote the band’s Halloween parties, were revealed in The National’s sister paper the Sunday Herald.

They emerged as the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism revealed 26 anti-Semitic crimes were logged in Scotland last year. Across the UK such incidents rose 14.9 per cent.

Ephraim Borowski, director of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, said the costumes were “not a joke” and urged officials to condemn the images, while the Catholic Church in Scotland called them “extremely disturbing”.

Meanwhile, Dave Scott, director of anti-sectarian charity Nil By Mouth, said the images were “breathtaking in their ignorance”.

He added: “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.”

The Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland initially declined to comment, but yesterday issued a statement via social media claiming it was the victim of “skewed” coverage.

Calling for a boycott of the Sunday Herald, it said: “We understand that the press has a role to play, but there is a difference between holding to account and pursuing a baseless agenda to attack and demonise our Protestant Culture & Heritage.”

Responding to the comment on the organisation’s official Facebook page, one woman wrote that she was “sick of being treated so prejudiced by the press”, while another suggested: “All these fancy dress shops sell these costumes.”

However, another posted: “Typical of the Orange order, they will not come out and confirm racism, sectarianism, homophobia within its ranks and move these people out like any other organisation would do. instead they shift the blame on to those that highlight their failings.”