The year 2019 was a busy one for the Netherlands, with elections and strikes, multiple high profile murders and shootings, and a summer full of heat records, severe storms and poisonous caterpillars. Here follows a review of the top ten stories of this year.
Football club Telstar released a statement on Wednesday, distancing itself from the behavior of its fans in a cup match against Ajax. During the match, fans shouted racist slurs at Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana, NU.nl reports.
Several people said on social media that spectators shouted "banana" at Onana, among other things. During the match Telstar said that it took note of events. The club released a statement afterwards.
Sinterklaas and two blackface Zwarte Piet characters were harassed on Laakweg in The Hague on Thursday evening. A group of young people followed them shouting things like "Get out Zwarte Piet" and "No racism in Laak".
A video of the incident was shared on social media. The young people can be heard shouting, translated from Dutch: "No racism brother. One for all, all for one". One of the young men threw something at Sinterklaas and pushed him, causing him to stumble.
The Sinterklaas and Pieten seemingly ignored the group and just kept walking.
This morning parents across the Netherlands will be bringing their kids to school to celebrate Sinterklaas, Packjesavond and the saint's imminent return to Spain. Foundation Nederland Wordt Beter is calling on parents to keep their children at home if their school's party still features blackface Zwarte Piet.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte is meeting with football association KNVB on Thursday to discuss how to tackle racism on and along the fields. The government is expected to propose more cameras, to make it easier to recognize supporters who misbehave. The KNVB will likely impose longer stadium bans on misbehaving supporters, sources told NOS.
Two incidents of football supporters shouting racist remarks at players this weekend left Prime Minister Mark Rutte furious. In both cases black players were either called or linked to Zwarte Piet - a blackface character from the Netherlands' Sinterklaas celebration. "It makes you hopeless, doesn't it", Rutte said on Monday, RTL Nieuws reports. "This society cannot go further if we treat each other this way."
The Utrecht district of Zuilen decided to cancel its Sinterklaas arrival party, scheduled for Saturday. The foundation in charge of organizing the party received serious threats because it decided to switch to so-called Chimney Pieten - Piet characters with soot marks on their faces instead of blackface makeup as the character is traditionally portrayed, Miranda Spies of the Gemeenschap Zuilen foundation said to AD.
Two Oranje players made a powerful statement against racism in the match against Estonia (5-0) in Amsterdam on Tuesday. After captain Georginio Wijnaldum scored his first of three goals, he and Frenkie de Jong stopped to pose with their arms against each other, to show that they are different but they are one.
Oliebollen stall De Wit Gebak from Eindhoven caused a social media commotion by posting a photo of a toddler and his father on its Facebook page, describing them as "Zwarte Piet". The owner, Piet de Wit, apologized and said they meant no harm. "I would like to get in touch with that man in the photo, to apologize", he said to Omroep Brabant.
“Downright disgusting”, is what Dutch football association KNVB called racist chants by FC Den Bosch fans directed at Excelsior player Ahmad Mendes Moreira on Sunday. “This does not belong on a football field”, Jan Bluyssen, KNVB’s competition affairs manager, said to NOS.
On Sunday referee Laurens Gerrets had to stop a match between FC Den Bosch and Excelsior for ten minutes, due to FC Den Bosch fans’ behavior. Songs about Zwarte Piet and monkey chanting were heard from the fanatic M-side every time Moreira had the ball, according to the broadcaster.
Several people Including the head of radical nationalist group Pegida were arrested in Apeldoorn at the national arrival of Sinterklaas, the winter holiday folklore character who brings gifts to children. Police say that most of those arrested were protestors who refused orders to move to a cordoned off area for demonstrations.
Posters featuring anti-discrimination activist Jerry Afriyie as Zwarte Piet were plastered all over Den Haag late Friday night and early Saturday morning. The posters use a digitally-manipulated portrait of Afriyie, turning him into the racist caricature he has led a charge against for years.
Hundreds of posters were affixed along the parade route for the arrival of Sinterklaas in Den Haag. They were glued to storefronts and boats in the harbor, according to broadcaster Omroep West.
The vast majority of Dutch municipalities are staying out of the discussion around the appearance of Zwarte Piet at the Sinterklaas arrival parties in their cities. Only a small number set conditions regarding the controversial character in the Sinterklaas tradition, NOS reports after speaking to the 120 largest municipalities in the Netherlands, three quarters of which responded to the broadcaster's questions.
A 49-year-old man from The Hague was arrested on Monday after publishing a social media post in which he threatened to attack activists with a bomb by blowing himself up as a way of shutting down what he called the "anti-Zwarte Piet movement." He emphasized in the message on Facebook that he "is not joking," and said he wanted to carry out the attack to defend the Sinterklaas tradition as it has been celebrated "for 100 years."
The supervisory board of the National Union of Journalists, a leading journalism labour union in the United Kingdom, passed a motion unanimously late last week that encourages reporters and editors covering the Zwarte Piet character in the Dutch Sinterklaas celebration to do so in a non-discriminatory way. Journalists were reminded of the union's Race Reporting Guidelines, which states that publications should not "originate material which encourages discrimination on the grounds of race or colour".
Activists seek personal protection: Protest organization Kick Out Zwarte Piet has scrapped its public schedule after a violent attack on its activists in Den Haag, wrote Nu.nl, and a threat of rioting at the group's planned roundtable discussion in Hengelo. The Hengelo event set for Monday was cancelled by city politicians at the last minute, according to Tubantia.
Five people were arrested in Den Haag on Friday night, accused of attempted arson and a violent assault against anti-Zwarte Piet activists meeting there, police said. Dozens of people were gathered in the former school building to discuss their activism against the use of blackface and racist caricatures in the Netherlands, when dozens more tried to storm the facility.
The national Sinterklaas arrival party in Apeldoorn can happen without any blackface Zwarte Piet characters, according to the court in Arnhem. The court ruled against a lawsuit demanding that the municipality of Apeldoorn revoke the permit for the party because Sinterklaas will only be accompanied by so-called Chimney Pieten - Piet characters with soot marks on their faces instead of blackface makeup, NOS reports.
From next year Eindhoven will follow the line of the Sinterklaasjournaal and drop blackface Zwarte Pieten from its arrival party, the municipality and Stichting Sint-Nicolaas, the foundation responsible for organizing the Sinterklaas arrival party, announced on Monday. But this year there will still be blackface Zwarte Pieten among the crowd of other-color Pieten at the party, Eindhovens Dagblad reports.
Action group Kick Out Zwarte Piet is planning to protest in twelve different cities in November against the use of blackface makeup and costuming often adorned by white actors portraying Sinterklaas's helper. The activists consider Zwarte Piet in his traditional form a racist stereotype. On Thursday there were protests in Apeldoorn and Deventer calling for Zwarte Piet to remain in the blackface costume seen mainly over the last hundred years, and which some say is adhering to Dutch tradition.
A number of sponsors are withdrawing from the Sinterklaas arrival event in The Hague this year after they received a letter from anti-racism action group Kick Out Zwarte Piet. The sponsors found the letter threatening, EenVandaag reports.
The Sinterklaas party in The Hague this year will include a mixture of Zwarte Pieten in full blackface makeup and so-called Chimney Pieten with soot marks on their face.
Mayors of municipalities in the Den Haag region released a joint statement in which they "strongly" reject the idea that there is a culture of discrimination within the police unit Den Haag that the leadership in the unit is ignoring. With this statement the mayors of Delft, Leiden, Zoetermeer, Rijswijk and Leidschendam-Voorburg, among others, respond to complaints from civil society organizations, a whistleblower and political parties about racism and discrimination within the police, NOS reports.
A group of 20 civil society organizations, led by anti-discrimination action group Controle Alt Delete, filed an official complaint against the police unit Den Haag. According to the organizations, the police in The Hague have been ignoring signals and reports of discrimination within the police for years and that must change. The complaint was filed with National Police chief Erik Akerboom, and a copy was sent to Minister Ferdinand Grappenhaus of Justice and security.
Far-right, anti-Islam group Pegida is calling on people to come to the national Sinterklaas arrival this year dressed as blackface Zwarte Piet. "We want to turn it into a traditional, beautiful children's party again", Pegida leader Edwin Wagensveld, dressed in a Sinterklaas costume, said in a video on Facebook.