Law to keep Zwarte Piet black has no place in parliament: advisory group

Dancers dressed as Zwarte PietEfforts by the anti-immigration PVV to ban local councils from organising Sinterklaas parades which include multi-coloured Piets have been rejected by the government’s most senior advisory body, the Council of State.

The PVV had tried to introduce draft legislation which would stop local councils from becoming involved in Sinterklaas events which do not have 100% Zwarte Piets – the saint’s controversial helper played by white people in blackface make-up.

However, the council said in its ruling on Tuesday that the draft law should not be given parliamentary time. The government does not have to interfere in the appearance of Sinterklaas or Zwarte Piet, the council said, and the role of the government is restricted to ensuring public safety is maintained, not the tradition itself.

Freedom of expression

In addition, a ban on alternative Sinterklaas celebrations would conflict with the right to freedom of expression, the council said.

In a reaction, the PVV said that 2.1 million people had signed a petition calling for the character of Black Piet to be left unchanged. Immigrants’ celebrations go unchallenged but the most popular party belonging to the native population is considered fair game, the party said in a statement.

‘The objections of a tiny little group of immigrants is considered to be more important than the native population’s dislike of all sorts of Islamic celebrations and other expressions of this ideology.’

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