Hundreds of soft toys representing Zwarte Piet, or Sinterklaas’s helper, have been tied to lamp posts in Rotterdam as part of a campaign by local party Leefbaar Rotterdam to keep the December 5 tradition unchanged.
The dolls have a sign around their necks stating ‘we want to stay’. The campaign comes a day after Gouda announced ‘cheese Piets’ would accompany Sinterklaas during the televised arrival next month.
Efforts are being made in some parts of the country to reduce what anti-Zwarte Piet campaigners say are racist elements in the portrayal of Piet – in particular the use of black face make-up.
‘The discussion about an innocent children’s party has to stop,’ said party spokesman Anton Molenaar. ‘We fear that a number of hyper-correct people are somewhat confused because they have forgotten 15 million Dutch people simply want to celebrate Sint and Piet.’
Leefbaar Rotterdam is the biggest party on Rotterdam city council and runs the city together with the D66 Liberal Democrats and the Christian Democrats.
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