Sinterklaas circus chased out of Rotterdam neighborhood

A Sinterklaas circus in the Rotterdam neighborhood of Spangen is being broken down only a few days after setting up. According to initiator Wouter Zuidema, he no longer feels safe after receiving threats over the telephone and on social media because his circus uses blackface Zwarte Pieten, he said according to local newspaper Dagblad 010.

According to Zuidema, foundation WMO Radar, which sponsors the circus, informed him shortly before the circus that only 'chimney sweeper' Pieten can be used because the If he did not give in to the demand, his circus tent would get no water or electricity, he said according to the newspaper. Zuidema said that his only option was to agree to the demand, but then he still used blackface Zwarte Pieten in the performance. Resulting in threats.

The Sinterklaas circus was set up next to the Sparta football club stadium on Saturday. But now Zuidema feels it's irresponsible to continue, for his own safety and that of his volunteers. 

WMO Radar contradicts Zuidema's story, broadcaster NOS reports. According to the foundation, arrangements about using chimney sweeper Pieten were made well in advance. But a day before the circus was set to start, Zuidema ended the collaboration with the foundation. 

A community police officer in Spangen also doesn't believe that Zuidema is closing the circus early due to threats. "I'm 100 percent sure that this is not the case", he said to NOS. He thinks that disappointing visitor numbers may be behind the closure. According to the officer, its true that there was a strange comment about the circus on Facebook, and that two anti-Zwarte Piet protesters demonstrated in front of the tent for a short time. "After that there was surveillance and a lot of contact with Zuidema, but no further threats. Zuidema himself said that he does not recognize the article in the local newspaper", the officer said, according to NOS.