Netherlands to change, not ban, blackface Christmas character

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The Dutch government has promised the international community that Zwarte Piet will be changed int a figure that is acceptable to everyone. He will not be banned however.

This promise was made during the on the fight against racial discrimination in Geneva on Wednesday morning, NRC reports.

Afke van Rijn, the leader of the Dutch delegation to Geneva, told the meeting that Minister Lodewijk Asscher of Social Affairs is organizing a meeting with different organizations and groups to discuss adapting Zwarte Piet into a globally acceptable figure. "An official ban on Zwarte Piet is no solution", she said.

Van Rijn had to answer a whole list of questions set by the international UN committee, including questions on ethnic profiling by the police, compulsory integration courses for immigrants and housing of asylum seekers and undocumented migrants. Most of the meeting was spent on Zwarte Piet, however.

The fierce debate around Zwarte Piet in the Netherlands has now spread to other countries. Committee members from Mauritius, South Africa, Colombia, Turkey and the United States all see Zwarte Piet as a symbol of years of racism and believe that the Netherlands must do something about this and quickly. "Violations of human rights can not be justified by invoking cultural tradition. Children should not be annually reminded that they are descendants of slaves", Murillo Martinez, the Colombian delegate, said.

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