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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Heart of Europe

    'Insulting Dutch royalty' case against Black Pete protester sparks outrage

    An outspoken activist against the 'Black Pete' (Zwarte Piet) tradition in the Netherlands (where white people dress up as Santa's black helper) has been charged with insulting royalty under an ancient law.

    Abulkasim al-Jaberi was arrested in November when television cameras showed him spouting a stream of profanity aimed at the king, Queen Maxima and the royal house.

    Al-Jaberi was part of a demonstration in Amsterdam against the Dutch "Black Pete" children's figure, which opponents say is a racist throwback.

    Al-Jaberi, a well-known critic of the black-faced sidekick that appears at the traditional gift-giving festival of Saint Nicholas, was handed a 500 euro ($568) fine afterwards. He refused to pay.
    Prosecutors then decided to invoke the 1881 lese-majeste law to charge him, which has upset many Dutch people who regard it as an attack on free speech, which they regard as fundamental to their society. The Amsterdam prosecutor's office expressed surprise at the 'emotional reaction' to the news.


    Photo from article about the Black Pete protests:

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    I have been waiting for this subject to come up because I was sceptical about talking about it.
    When I first started going to Holland and Belgium and I saw Zwarte Piet I was a bit startled and thought this would not go over well in the states,but after many years of observing SinterKlass and Zwarte Piet celebrations I have come to understand this as a harmless and well loved tradition.
    The story comes from a book by Jan Schenkman in 1850,Sint Nikolaas and his Servant.The story has changed over the years but the basis is the feest of Sint Nikolaas celebrated on Dec.5 or 6.
    Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet come by steamship from Spain to the port of Antwerp.Piet developed into being Sinterklaas helper,who is black because he is a moor.Other stories say he has blackface because he is a chimney sweep.Piet carries the book with all the good childrens names and originally if you were bad you are put in a sack and carried to Spain but that has changed to Piet carrying the sack filled with dutch cookies.There are many Piets,one drives the ship and one tends to SinterKlaas horse.On the eve of Dec.5 he leaves cookies and toys in children's shoes.
    After talking with my belgian friends and seeing the parades and celebrations that are also celebrated by black Belgians and Dutch,Piet is a loved character and not a symbol of hate.
    Piet is more loved by kids than Klaas,anyone can dress as Piet,young/old male/female.Piets color has changed sometimes with no color or a rainbow of colors.I watched last years tv special on Het Journaal that shows Opa Piet (The head Piet) as being equal to Sinterklaas and riding his own horse along Sinterklaas.
    If you want to look at it as a hateful,biased story then it will be,but if you want to look at it as a beloved happy celebration that it is, then it will be.If you could see the faces of the children when Piet comes to greet them you would wonder how adults could see ugliness in this.
    There are many children of color at these celebrations and I have never seen anyone upset.
    I did not understand the tradition in the beginning and my husband and I sought out every Zwarte Piet event we could find and have grown to love him as much as the children.

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