Issues concerning racism and other forms of discrimination should be tackled collectively, as a society, and not by the government alone, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Friday. Speaking at a press conference after convening with the cabinet, Rutte was taken to task on a number of issues around racial discrimination following a week of protest action in the Netherlands and abroad.
Prime Minster Mark Rutte has started to think differently about the appearance of blackface Sinterklaas character Zwarte Piet, he said in a parliamentary debate on Thursday about protests against racist police brutality. "I also belonged to the group that said: Zwarte Piet is simply black," he said, but added that he now thinks differently.
Groningen became the latest big city to move away from the blackface appearance of Sinterklaas helper Zwarte Piet, with an announcement on Wednesday that the city's Sinterklaas arrival party this year will only feature actors with soot-smears on their faces, or no makeup at all. Amsterdam was the first to make that decision back in 2016, and Rotterdam took the same position the next year. Haarlem and Hilversum followed suit in the years after.
Mayor Marga Waanders of was not allowed to issue an emergency decree to ban a demonstration against Zwarte Piet during Sinterklaas' arrival in Dokkum in 2017, the court ruled on Friday. According to the court, the situation did not match the requirements for an emergency decree, and the mayor did not sufficiently consider other, less drastic measures.
Anti-racism action group Kick Out Zwarte Piet will protest throughout the year against the presence of blackface Zwarte Piet in the annual Sinterklaas celebrations this year. The group is planning actions every quarter, was decided at a meeting in the Willem Twee showroom in Den Bosch on Monday, RTL Nieuws reports.
Police arrested a third man connected to a shooting in Utrecht, where local residents said the perpetrator was dressed up like Zwarte Piet. The arrest in the 2018 case was announced on Tuesday. He is a 48-year-old man with no fixed address.
Two people were arrested in the case last June. Neither was believed to be the shooter, police said in July when they released images of the man they said was at large.
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.
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.
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.
The largest toy store chains in the Netherlands largely prefer to avoid the debate around the appearance of blackface Sinterklaas character Zwarte Piet by not having the character in their stores, NU.nl reports after speaking to the toy stores.
Intertoys, the largest toy chain in the Netherlands with over 200 branches, removed Piet in whatever form completely from decorations in Intertoys stores. The chain thus avoids uncomfortable situations, a spokesperson said to the newspaper.
All 11 members of radical nationalist group Pegida arrested during the national Sinterklaas arrival party in Apeldoorn on Saturday, have been released from custody, the police announced on Sunday. The Pegida demonstrators, dressed as blackface Zwarte Piet, were arrested for refusing to follow police orders. The other Sinterklaas arrival parties throughout the Netherlands happened largely without major incident.
“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.
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.