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Netherlands: Children's favourite Black Pete at the centre of racism storm01:35

Netherlands: Children's favourite Black Pete at the centre of racism storm

Netherlands, Groningen
November 16, 2013 at 16:27 GMT +00:00 · Published

Netherlands: Children's favourite Black Pete at the centre of racism storm

Dutch parents and childrens celebrated the beginning of the holiday season with the traditional arrival of Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) in the city of Groningen on Saturday. Saint Nicholas and his blacked-up helpers performed for the crowd, which took cheerful part despite accusations of racism that have flown since a United Nations working group launced an enquiry into the custom.

Jamaican academic Verene Shepherd spoke out against the practice on Dutch television, calling it a 'throwback to slavery'. In response, tens of thousands joined Facebook groups defending their right to the tradition.

The heated debate and controversy surrounding the event led to Dutch police being on high alert for protests. However, according to the police in Groningen no demonstrations were organised and there were no reported accidents.

According to the story the Dutch tell their children, 'Santa Claus' lives in Spain and travels to the Netherlands accompanied by Black Pete every November. Santa Claus and Black Pete stay in the Netherlands until December 6 and on the night before returning home Santa Claus delivers gifts and presents to children.

Netherlands: Children's favourite Black Pete at the centre of racism storm01:35
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Netherlands: Children's favourite Black Pete at the centre of racism storm

Dutch parents and childrens celebrated the beginning of the holiday season with the traditional arrival of Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) in the city of Groningen on Saturday. Saint Nicholas and his blacked-up helpers performed for the crowd, which took cheerful part despite accusations of racism that have flown since a United Nations working group launced an enquiry into the custom.

Jamaican academic Verene Shepherd spoke out against the practice on Dutch television, calling it a 'throwback to slavery'. In response, tens of thousands joined Facebook groups defending their right to the tradition.

The heated debate and controversy surrounding the event led to Dutch police being on high alert for protests. However, according to the police in Groningen no demonstrations were organised and there were no reported accidents.

According to the story the Dutch tell their children, 'Santa Claus' lives in Spain and travels to the Netherlands accompanied by Black Pete every November. Santa Claus and Black Pete stay in the Netherlands until December 6 and on the night before returning home Santa Claus delivers gifts and presents to children.

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