Hilversum mayor under fire over racist joke

Pieter Broertjes
New chairman of the Consumentenbond, Pieter Broertjes. (Pieter Broertjes)

At a Hilversum city council meeting mayor Pieter Broertjes made a joke referring to children's song from the 1860's "Ten Little Niggers". The remark led to furious reactions on social media, with many accusing the Hilversum mayor of racism.

Broertjes made the remark after announcing that city councilor Henk Blok left Hart voor Hilversum and will continue as a one-man faction, NH Nieuws reports. "That means that the Hart voor Hilversum faction now consists of seven members. I wish Mr. Slingerland success and I hope that the story of the seven niggers doesn't go as we used to...", the mayor said, translated from Dutch. He did not finish his sentence, and his remark was met with laughter from some in the council chamber. 

After the remark, Broertjes immediately apologized. "Sorry, no, it's not funny. Really unacceptable. Apologies", he said. 

According to NH Nieuws, city councilor Rebekka Timmer protested against Broertjes remark. Many people also posted angry responses on social media. "Furious, shocked and enormously sad, I sat on the public gallery for the goodbye of Rebekka Timmer during the HIlversum council meeting, after mayor Pieter Broertjes without any shame made a racist joke with the word 'nigger'," one person wrote. Another: "Disgusting. Broertjes, you should be ashamed." And: "This is simply spreading disgusting racist poison. Am I angry? I am blazing."

Others accepted the mayor's apologies. They find the angry comments over exaggerated because Broertjes immediately said sorry. 

The municipality of Hilversum said that the statement was tasteless and the mayor therefore immediately apologized.

'Ten Little Niggers' and 'Ten Little Indians' are a book and a song that originated in the United States at about the same time in the 1860s. The children's song was translated many times, including to Dutch. Nowadays the song is widely regarded as extremely racist.