Parents and children attending the official arrival of Sinterklaas in Maassluis on Saturday will have to go through formal security checks before they reach the waterfront where the steamship bringing the saint will dock.
The town’s mayor Edo Haan has decided to beef up security to make sure pro and anti Zwarte Piet demonstrators don’t slip through into the area where families can watch the procession.
Hundreds of police officers will also be present. Two years ago, dozens of anti-Piet demonstrators were arrested at the official arrival ceremony in Gouda because of fears there would be clashes with pro-Piet supporters.
The extreme right-wing Nederlandse VolksUnie has registered its plans to demonstrate in favour of Zwarte Piet and have been given permission to stand next to the route where the procession will take place.
Anti-Piet demonstrators say they are not planning a demonstration but will take part in a ‘peaceful protest’. ‘It is not a demonstration, we just want to express our opinions,’ a spokesman for the Kick Out Zwarte Piet collective said. ‘We have already agreed not to react to any provocation from the NVU.’
Social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher said described the need for security as ‘scandalous’. ‘Whether you are for or against Zwarte Piet, there is no excuse to hurl abuse at others or worse,’ he said.
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