Support for the traditional blackface version of Zwarte Piet is declining and more people are now open to change, according to a poll of 55,000 people for television current affairs show EenVandaag.
The poll shows that 68% of the population back keeping Zwarte Piet black, while 26% are open to change. In 2013, the traditional version of Sinterklaas’ helper had 89% support, last year 74%.
At the same time, three-quarters of those polled said they could understand why supporters of the traditional Piet had stopped anti-demonstrators travelling to Dokkum this weekend by blocking the motorway.
Meanwhile, the AD newspaper devoted its Thursday front page to a call for a ‘Sinterklaas truce’.
‘We do not want to get involved in the Zwarte Piet discussion and we are certainly not taking a stance. We just want the discussions to take place at the right time and the right place,’ editor Hans Nijenhuis said in an open letter to readers.
‘But could we agree not to harass each other from the time that Sint sets foot in the Netherlands to the time he leaves. This is all we are asking for, a Sinterklaas truce.’
The paper’s campaign has the backing of prime minister Mark Rutte who told the paper: ‘All over the country children had a great time during the parades. And this is how it should be in the Netherlands…
‘In the Netherlands you can make your opinions plain without spoiling a children’s party or damaging other people’s property. That’s not what we do in the Netherlands.’
Actor Bram van der Vlugt, former politician Jan Terlouw and a string of other celebrities and politicians have also signed up to support the paper’s campaign.
Vlogger Steven Brunswijk, who vlogs under the name Braboneger and also backs the AD, said he knew of children who had come home in tears because they had been asked by the teacher to be Zwarte Piet, because of the colour of their skin.
‘White people who support Zwarte Piet have probably never felt the pain of discrimination on the grounds of skin colour,’ he said, before calling for discussions to be kept away from children.
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