Mandatory Zwarte Piet blackface proposal rejected by MPs

Dutch MPs have rejected a proposal by the extreme-right PVV to mandate that Zwarte Piet has a completely blacked-up face, reports the Telegraaf.

On Thursday, MPs Martin Bosma and Machiel de Graaf proposed that rainbow Piets should be banned and that municipal councils could only organise Sinterklaas festivities if they ensured St Nicholas’s helpers had fully black or brown faces.

In recent years the Dutch tradition of dressing up these clown figures in black make-up, red lips, afro wigs and – sometimes – gold earrings has become increasingly controversial, dubbed discriminatory by bodies including a UN committee and the Netherlands’ children’s ombudsman.

But home affairs minister Ronald Plasterk told the house on Thursday that the PVV’s proposed ban: ‘is not what this government is about.’ He claimed that only in North Korea are there similar rules, adding: ‘It does not fit into an open, democratic society.’

Bosma claims that there is a ‘war’ against Zwarte Piet that is part of a ‘wider offensive’ against Dutch traditions, but only the PVV supported his proposal in parliament.

Kees Verhoeven of the liberal democratic D66 party – the Telegraaf writes – wondered whether they would soon be ruling on the colour of Easter eggs.