Sinterklaas festivities start on Saturday (update)

There will be tighter security for the arrival of Sinterklaas in the Netherlands this weekend because of potential protests about the character Zwarte Piet, according to the AD.

In Groningen, where the start of three weeks of Sinterklaas celebrations will kick off with a live television broadcast on Saturday, police are on high alert for protests and have been told to intervene if there is a risk the children’s party could be spoiled, the AD said.

However, a spokesman for the national police later told news agency ANP no extra measures were being planned and that extra police will be on duty as they are at any major event.

In Amsterdam, where activists tried to have the traditional Sinterklaas parade banned, demonstrators are being warned not to swear at or insult people dressed as Zwarte Piet, the AD said.


‘Police must act properly if necessary,’ the AD quoted the police as saying.

Amsterdam’s mayor Eberhard van der Laan told the AD demonstrators are welcome but they ‘must be sensible’. T-shirts with protest texts are acceptable because they are covered by freedom of speech legislation, the mayor said.

Two years ago, activists were arrested for wearing t-shirts comparing Zwarte Piet with racism.

In Amsterdam the parade organisers have banned Zwarte Piet from wearing gold earrings and have introduced different coloured lipsticks in an effort to soften what protestors say is a racist image of black people.

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