The Ministry of Social Affairs is organizing a meeting for municipalities to discuss how they can tackle polarization on sensitive topics like blackface Sinterklaas character Zwarte Piet and the construction of wind farms in the transition to green energy. At the meeting on Wednesday, municipalities can exchange experiences and tactics on how they deal with tensions between different groups, a spokesperson for the Ministry said to RTL Nieuws.
People in the Netherlands largely agree about what it means to be Dutch, valuing the same traditions and symbols regardless of origin, age or level of education. Dutch also agree on what they consider to be the biggest threats to the Dutch identity - polarization and Islam, the social and cultural planning office SCP found in a two year long study into the Dutch identity titled Dekend aan Nederland.
Sinterklaas will make his national arrival to the Netherlands in Apeldoorn this year, NTR and Apeldoorn mayor Petra van Wingerden-Boers announced on Friday.
The national arrival will happen on Saturday, November 16th. Sinterklaasjournaal, the kids' show that follows Sinterklaas' travels to the Netherlands, will start on Monday, November 11th.
In the run-up to Pakjesavond, PostNL processed a record number of around 12 million parcels in its distribution centers. Last year just under 10 million parcels were processed between Black Friday and December 4th, NU.nl reports.
According to PostNL, this figure was higher than expected, thanks to the increasing popularity of doing Sinterklaas shopping online. Black Friday and Cyber Monday were also busier than ever. The Dutch postal service is preparing for a similarly busy Christmas period.
PostNL was flooded with complaints in the run-up to Pakjesavond on Tuesday. Hundreds of customers were worried that their Sinterklaas gifts would not arrive on time, AD reports.
The fact that Sinterklaas is increasingly buying his gifts online has its disadvantages. Online shops, sorting centers, and package deliverers were overflowing with packages this past week, according to the newspaper.
Primary schools in large cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague and the municipalities around them are increasingly using Pieten with soot marks on their faces in the Sinterklaas celebration, rather than the traditional blackface Zwarte Piet, according to a survey of over 580 schools by DUO Education Research & Advice, NU.nl reports.
Several parties in the lower house of Dutch parliament voiced strong criticism on Prime Minister Mark Rutte's response to disturbances around various Sinterklaas celebrations in the Netherlands over the weekend. The Prime Minister's call for no demonstrations in the three weeks that Sinterklaas is in the Netherlands in particular led to bewilderment from the D66, GroenLinks, SP, PvdA, ChristenUnie, PvdD and DENK, among others, NU.nl reports.
After a weekend that saw anti-Zwarte Piet demonstrators attacked by threats, racist epithets, and with eggs and beer cans hurled at them, the activists of Kick Out Zwarte Piet said they are disappointed in city governance in the Netherlands. Protestors were physically and verbally assaulted during the Sinterklaas arrival events in Eindhoven, Groningen, and Leeuwarden, while threats of violence forced the cancellation of a protest in Nijmegen.
Activists angered by the use of blackface around the Dutch Sinterklaas tradition are planning to protest in Dokkum on Saturday. The protestors had previously made arrangements with the municipality to lawfully demonstrate in the Friesland town at the televised Sinterklaas arrival last year, but their buses were stopped by people who created a blockade on the A7 motorway shutting down all traffic on a main road into the province.
The court of Haarlem ruled on Wednesday that the appearance of Zwarte Pieten participating in the national arrival of Sinterklaas in Zaandam on Saturday does not have to be adjusted further. The Majority Perspective foundation was not entitled to institute legal proceedings because no prior consultations were held with the defendants, the court said, NU.nl reports.
The municipality of Zaanstad fears that the Sinterklaas's national arrival on Saturday will have to be canceled if the court rules in favor of the Majority Perspective foundation in summary proceedings the foundation filed. The foundation did not ask for the celebration to be banned outright, as previously reported, but demands that the Zwarte Piet characters be stripped of all stereotypical characteristics and behaviors that they consider racist, NU.nl reports.
The first episode of NTR's kids show Sinterklaasjournaal on Monday featured mainly Chimney Pieten with soot marks on their faces. Only one, played by actor Maarten Wansink, had a completely black face, NU.nl reports.
In the first episode, presenter Dieuwertje Blok made first contact with the steamboat, which has to set course to Zaanstad where Sinterklaas will make his national arrival in the Netherlands on Saturday. The boat hasn't departed yet, because Sinterklaas is not yet on board.
A group of Zwarte Piet opponents filed summary proceedings asking the court to ban the national arrival of Sinterklaas in Zaanstad on Saturday. The Majority Perspective foundation filed this lawsuit against a number of involved parties, including Sinterklaasjournaal broadcaster NTR and the mayor of Zaanstad, NU.nl reports.
A group of anti-Zwarte Piet protesters occupied a footbridge to the Mediapark in Hilversum on Monday morning. They call on broadcaster NTR to use only so-called Chimney Pieten with soot marks on their faces in the Sinterklaasjournaal, instead of Pieten with completely black faces, NU.nl reports.
The court in Leeuwarden sentenced pro-Zwarte Piet activists to community service between 80 and 240 hours for preventing two buses of anti-Zwarte Piet protesters from reaching the national Sinterklaas arrival in Dokkum in November last year, NU.nl reports.
Children in Zaanstad see Sinterklaas as a fun family celebration and when it comes to the color of Zwarte Piet, they prefer so-called Chimney Pieten colored black by soot, according to Zaanstad Children's Ombudsman Martien van Does, Het Parool reports.
Van Does spoke to 200 children about Sinterklaas in the run-up to a debate evening on Wednesday about the holy man's national arrival at the Zaanse Schans on November 17th.
Zwarte Piet in his traditional form will no longer be welcome at the police's internal Sinterklaas celebrations from 2020. "The Sinterklaas party is a connecting party, but some expressions at that party hurt people. Where such painful experiences exist, we look together how we can solve that", the police said in a statement.
To prevent the national arrival of Sinterklaas from getting out of hand, the municipality of Zaandstad is implementing extra security measures and strict rules for protestors. Demonstrators will have fixed areas for their protests, far away from other protesting groups, and there will be access gates and extra searches at the arrival on November 17th, ANP reports.
The area where Sinterklaas arrives, will be closed down with fences. Visitors can only enter through access gates, where bags and jackets will be searched. No glassware or drones will be allowed.
Netflix seems to be avoiding the controversy around Sinterklaas and his helper Zwarte Piet this year. No Sinterklaas shows are available on the streaming service this year, according to the Telegraaf.
Sinterklaas shows and films did appear on Netflix in the past. Responding to disappointed customers on social media, Netflix said that the content was removed because the agreements with the distributors have expired, according to the newspaper.
Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb was authorized to ban a demonstration against Zwarte Piet in November 2016, the court in Rotterdam ruled. Activist group Kick Out Zwarte Piet wanted to protest in Rotterdam during the arrival of Sinterklaas in November 2016. Mayor Aboutaleb banned this demonstration out of fear of disturbances. Some 200 demonstrators were arrested.
The Public Prosecutor demanded 6 months in prison against one of the 34 people suspected of blocking the A7 highway so that two buses carrying anti-Zwarte Piet protesters could not reach the national Sinterklaas arrival in Dokkum last year. The other 33 suspects face community service, NOS reports.
The police officers that responded to a blockade on the A7 that prevented two buses of anti-Zwarte Piet protesters reaching the national Sinterklaas arrival in Dokkum last year, completely ignored the protesters on the buses and talked in a friendly way with the people blocking the highway, Jerry Afriyie of action group Kick Out Zwarte Piet said in court on Thursday, RTL Nieuws reports.
A Facebook post stating that the 34 suspects in the trial around a highway blockade during the national Sinterklaas arrival last year were sentenced to prison, was massively shared on Facebook. The post on the page 'Ik Ben Zwarte Piet Fan' was shared over 25 thousand times in the 23 hours it was online. It has since been removed, NOS reports.
According to the post, all 34 suspects were sentenced to 18 months in prison, six of which conditionally suspended. This is misinformation.
No Chimney Pieten will accompany Sinterklaas during celebrations in Noord-Brabant's largest cities. Seven of the eight cities in the province decided to stick to traditional Zwarte Pieten, with the actor's faces colored by brown, dark brown or black makeup, Omroep Brabant reports.