Wednesday 08 February 2023

Amsterdam borough chief will ignore vote to stop Sinterklaas parade

The borough council in the Amsterdam district of Zuidoost has narrowly voted in favour of refusing a licence to hold a Sinterklaas parade through the district next month, if it includes Zwarte Piet.

The motion to stop the inclusion of Zwarte Piet – white people in blackface make-up who act as Sinterklaas’ servant – was drawn up by the local Labour party.

They say many people in Zuidoost, which has a large population of people with Antillean and Surinamese roots, object to the Zwarte Piet character and that including him in the procession would be a provocation.

The motion was approved by 15 votes to 14.


However, borough council chairman Tjeerd Herrema said in a string of Twitter messages he will not carry out the motion and that it is not up to the borough council to decide on these issues.

‘A ban is not the solution to update an old tradition. A discussion is,’ Herrema said.

Discussions about the Zwarte Piet character were stirred up again this month when activists in Amsterdam tried to have the city’s main procession banned.

Later it emerged UN human rights officials are also looking into the tradition after receiving complaints that it is discriminatory.

Update 16.15 hours

It emerged later on Wednesday the dispute is a storm in a teacup because no application had been made to hold a Sinterklaas parade in Zuidoost. Nor had the local shopkeepers association any plans to host a parade.

10 things you need to know about Zwarte Piet
According to Piet by comedian Erik van Muiswinkel, who plays Piet on tv

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