Yes, it’s that time of the year again.
As the days shorten and the first frost touches the fields, canals, and cities of the Low Countries, it’s time for the annual custom of abolishing Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet in the Netherlands and Flanders.
Our Flemish correspondent VH has compiled a report on the latest attempts to do away with the venerable racist saint and his swarthy sidekick.
First, a translation from De Telegraaf:
Annoyance in the Netherlands about multicultural miter
The miter that Sinterklaas wears is as sacred as the Dutch political party CDA [Christian Democrats] suggests, which is displeased that some municipalities want to get rid of the religious cross on the headgear of the good and holy man.
To the dismay of the ruling CDA party, St. Nicholas for several years [since 2006] has shown up in Amsterdam without a cross on his miter because “the demographics are multi-ethnic” and the children’s friend must be of “a universal character”.
The CDA now wants the PvdA (Socialists) ministers Ter Horst [Home Affairs and “elite revolt”] and Plasterk [Culture] to “stand up for maintaining the typical Dutch Sinterklaas feast, including all symbols and references that go with it”.
The CDA continues: “There is no reason to anxiously hide away the Christian origin of Saint Nicholas,” said CDA MP Koppejan. “We think it is fine that many ethnic groups have entered Dutch society with their own feasts, customs and religions, but that does not mean that the Christian origin of our own feasts have to be denied.”
Last year discussions on this issue also arose in Belgium. In Antwerp it was forbidden for Sinterklaas to appear at public schools with a cross on his miter. But the miter is not the only dispute about Sinterklaas. The fact that the “Zwarte Pieten” with Sinterklaas are black would be discriminatory. In 2006, a debate flared up because on the Dutch [government-subsidized] TV news, yellow-, red-, green-, white- and blue-Peters appeared in a “Sinterklaas news” item for children, because “parcel-steamboat number 12 of Sinterklaas”, had supposedly “sailed through a rainbow”.
Furthermore, in 2008 there was a call by a Modern Art Museum and artists, to abolish the Dutch “Black Peter” tradition completely and organize a protest rally against the “racist” Zwarte Piet, because it was supposed to be “full of racism and colonialism”. After the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven received dozens of angry e-mails and phone calls, it was called off all together.
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By 2006 Saint Nicholas had been banned from kindergartens in Vienna as result of the multicultural, diversity and tolerant society that is still under construction.
Hélène Beyers reports on HetVrijeVolk.com, that one of the large department stores in the Netherlands and Flanders, HEMA, now sells Arabic chocolate letters for Sinterklaas, in two types: the “S” for Sinterklaas [sold out] and also the beloved
“P” for Piet“M” of the beloved …
After its headscarf advertising, this apparently is the next step in the Islamization of the Hema. Which is curious, because the El Hema art project in 2007 was not at all appreciated by the public, even when they had Arab chocolate letters and halal smoked sausage on sale. [The “El Hema” campaign was set up by mediamatic, of Willem Velthoven, who also initiated the “make Wilders’ upcoming film unfindable on youtube” with his campaign “sorry”.]
Furthermore, it remains strange that chocolate characters are exclusively created for Muslims, while they want nothing to do with the Christian feast, nor are they so modern that they by the “A” of Ahmed or Aïscha.
And the choice to add only Arabic letters in a so-called multicultural society is offensive to other nationalities who use different alphabetic characters — including Hindus, Chinese, Greeks, Israelis, etc. — who also live in the Netherlands.