Sinterklaas will be accompanied by more so-called Chimney Pieten and fewer traditional Zwarte Pieten at his national arrival in Meppel this year. More of Sinterklaas' helpers will be marked with ash and soot marks on their faces, instead of the traditional black-face makeup. The cities of Amsterdam, Utrecht, The Hague and Maastricht will be following the same trend in the coming years.
In the run-up to the national arrival celebration of Sinterklaas, held this year in Meppel, Drenthe, local mayor Jan Westmaas says he wants to enter into a dialogue with opponents of Zwarte Piet and its blackface look, as well as traditionalists who want to keep the character as is. This year's arrival is scheduled for November 14, but a representative from the municipality would not comment on the image of Zwarte Piet that will be used in this years’ celebrations, reported Nu.nl.
Albert Heijn grocery stores will continue to use the blackface character Zwarte Piet as part of their winter holiday promotions around the Sinterklaas holiday. “We are sincerely bothered that cultural practices around the beloved Sinterklaas parties may be offensive,” parent company Ahold said in a statement.
Zwarte Piet is likely to remain a big part of the annual winter Sinterklaas celebrations outside of the Randstad region covering Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht and Den Haag, the Volkskrant reported on Thursday. Cities like Assen, Groningen, Helmond, Leeuwarden and Maastricht have not yet come to a decision regarding the debated image of Zwarte Piet.
An organization that governs 32 public elementary schools in Utrecht says that Sinterklaas celebrations in the schools will no longer include the maligned blackface character Zwarte Piet. "An important principle of public primary education in Utrecht is that everyone is equal," the organization SPO Utrecht stated on Wednesday.
Retailers say they want an end to the ongoing negativity surrounding the continual Zwarte Piet debate, the Retail Netherlands association of 110,000 companies said in a statement on Wednesday. They are begging for a consensus on the issue and to put an end to all the "distractions."
RTL will be keeping the traditional blackface appearance of character Zwarte Piet in the broadcaster's kids show Club van Sinterklaas this year. According to the broadcaster, the Zwarte Pieten are children's heroes and are therefore keeping "their own appearance"
The decision made by primary schools in The Hague to steadily phase out discriminatory features of Zwarte Piet has caused quite an uproar in both the on- and offline world. Hundreds of opponents and supporters of the decision are voicing their opinions on social media.
Supermarket chain Jumbo will be using both the traditional Zwarte Piet and light skinned Pieten on their packaging and advertisements this year due to the public debate over the character.
The managing boards of all the primary schools in The Hague have agreed to adjust the facade of Zwarte Piet and drop discriminatory features of the character. They feel that every child, regardless of color or race, should feel at ease during the Sinterklaas festival.
The Golden Coach has joined Zwarte Piet as another symbol of Dutch culture that can be construed as racist. Action group De Grauwe Koets, The Sooty Coach in English, has organized a demonstration against the famous Dutch coach on the Museumplein in Amsterdam on Saturday. According to the Facebook event page for the demonstration, the coach's panels contain "racist images which glorify the colonial past".
The United Nations committee on the elimination of racial discrimination has released its report on discrimination in the Netherlands following the meeting with the Dutch delegation in Venice last week. The committee highlighted a number of concerns made recommendations regarding, among other things, Zwarte Piet, ethnic profiling by the police, racist statements made by politicians, antisemitic chants during football games, the asylum policy and ethnic bullying in schools.
The United Nations' College for Human Rights will present its conclusions and recommendation on discrimination in the Netherlands on Friday. This will include recommendations on Sinterklaas' highly controversial helper Zwarte Piet
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.
A Dutch delegation is facing a United Nations committee that acts against racial discrimination in Geneva on Wednesday. Topics that will be discussed includes the Zwarte Piet issue, ethnic profiling by the police and the situation on the labor market
The climbing Zwarte Pieten that traditionally decorate the hall of the Bijenkorf's Amsterdam branch during the holiday season, will be golden this year instead of the traditional black.
The Public Prosecutor in Amsterdam has received 3 charges and about 700 support statements against Zwarte Piet, after the action arranged by four anti-Zwarte Piet organizations during slave liberation day in the capital last week.
Hundreds of complaints on Zwarte Piet were filed at the mobile police uni set up on the Museumplein in Amsterdam during the commemoration of the abolition of slavery on Wednesday.
Anti-Zwarte Piet groups are planning protests and demonstrations at the national entry of Sinterklaas on November 14th in Meppel.
The foundation Nederland Word Beter has placed a call on Facebook inviting people to file police reports against Zwarte Piet on July 1st - the day that the Netherlands celebrates the abolition of slavery in the country. According to the foundation, Zwarte Piet encourages discrimination.
The Public Prosecutor in Amsterdam has decided not to prosecute the 26-year old man suspected of insulting the King and the Queen during Zwarte Piet demonstrations by saying "fuck the king, fuck the queen and fuck the royal palace," the Public Prosecutor (OM) declared on Thursday. The Prosecution determined the statement was made "within the context of public debate," which means that relevant statements are not punishable.
The words "Fuck the King" was spray-painted on the Royal Palace in Amsterdam sometime during Wednesday night. The city of Amsterdam has removed the text. The police have launched an investigation to find the vandals.
Amsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der Laan does not see activist Abulkasim Al-Jaberi's "fuck the king, fuck the queen, fuck the royal house" statements worthy of prosecuting, according to the Parool. The Public Prosecutor is prosecuting Al-Jaberi for his statements made during a demonstration against Zwarte Piet on November 16th last year.