Court is considering 'Zwarte Piet'

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The Amsterdam court rules this afternoon whether 'Zwarte Piet'  is welcome next Sunday at the entrance of the Sint in the capital. Opponents of the annual childrens' festivity find 'Zwarte Piet' racist and disrespectful to people of African descent.

The servant of Sinterklaas is always black , not white, and always has frizzy hair, states one of the critics who took the matter to court. The Sinterklaas festivities don't bring people together, it divides them. For that reason alone, there should be no 'Zwarte Pieten' allowed during the 75th entry of Sinterklaas in Amsterdam.

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According to the lawyer of the town , the presence of 500 helpers can only be prohibited if there are concerns about the safety of the public or public policy is at stake . And that is not to be expected in this case. The very racist element of Zwarte Piet alone should be grounds enough to approve the ban, according to the opponents.

The Foundation Committee Sinterklaas in Amsterdam decided to adapt Zwarte Piet, after consultation with the objectors and Mayor Van der Laan. The 500 helpers will not wear earrings at the entry, and they will wear a variety of black hair instead of all frizzed. And they will wear different colors lipstick.

The Chairman of the Committee reiterated it is the beginning of a negotiation on the future of this tradition. Immediately after December 5 negotiations will start about the character of 'Zwarte Piet' for the entry in 2014, stated Chairman Borsboom .

The court recognized the situation is complicated and 'Zwarte Piet' can not just be banned, just as demonstrations can't be banned even if people shout terrible things.

Partly because of the moral debate that rages around the 'Zwarte Piet' personage, the judge said not to know if she had the authority to rule on the matter.

The verdict is scheduled for 16:00 this afternoon .