Dutch PM’s Antillean friends like Zwarte Piet, ‘don’t have to paint faces’

The next two days may be focused on the nuclear security summit in The Hague, but prime minister Mark Rutte found himself fielding a question about Zwarte Piet at his pre-conference press conference on Sunday.

Asked by a journalist how he could reconcile his firm stand against Geert Wilders with his support for Black Piet, Rutte brushed aside efforts by foreign minister Frans Timmermans to head off the question.

‘It is an old Dutch children’s tradition,’ Rutte said. ‘My friends in the Antilleans (the Dutch former colonies in the Caribbean) are very happy when it is Sinterklaas because they don’t have to paint their faces. When I play Black Pete I am for days trying to get the stuff off my face.’

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