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De Volkskrant - Netherlands | Monday, August 18, 2014

Don't politicise Sinterklaas celebrations

Amsterdam's Mayor Eberhard van der Laan has appealed against a ruling by an administrative court that describes "Zwarte Piet", the black helper of the Dutch figure of Sinterklaas or Saint Nicolas, as a racist caricature. The left-liberal daily De Volkskrant warns against politicising the Sinterklaas celebrations, which take place in early December: "These severe accusations cast a shadow on this unique children's festival, which thrives on a sense of playfulness. Politicising the tradition is the last thing children need. Sint and Piet are there for all children, and for that reason must make allowances for the secularised and multi-ethnic society that the Netherlands has become in the last half century. Piet has long since stopped being the dumb, subservient vassal he once was. And by the same token, Sint cares little about his boss in the Vatican. It's a good thing if these two change with the times. And also if they can do something to counter the real unease among dark-skinned Dutch citizens."

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