• The Dutch version of Santa Claus, Sinterklaas, or Saint Nicholas, and his blackface sidekicks "Zwarte Piet" arrive by steamboat in Hoorn, Netherlands (AAP)
The law is important for the survival of Dutch culture, proponents say.
By
Ben Winsor

16 Feb - 4:25 PM  UPDATED 17 Feb - 7:47 AM

A month ahead of national elections in the Netherlands, Geert Wilders' far-right Freedom Party will on Friday propose legislation to preserve a traditional Dutch holiday figure, Black Pete, according to local media.

Black Pete - Zwarte Piet in Dutch - is Saint Nicholas' helper in the Dutch tradition of Sinterklaas, but the blackface portrayal of the character has drawn increasing criticism both at home and abroad.

In recent years, some have sought to alter the tradition by using multi-coloured Petes, non-Caucasian performers, or makeup which depicts the ‘black’ as soot from chimneys.

But such ‘politically correct’ moves are part of a threat to Western culture, according to a senior member of Wilders’ Freedom Party.

READ MORE
Sack 'racist' Black Pete, says Dutch kid's advocate
Opponents say "Black Pete"say the holiday figure is a blatantly racist caricature with big red lips and "afro"-style hair and should be replaced.

MP Martin Bosma will propose the legislation which seeks to codify the appearance of Black Pete.

“The attack on Zwarte Piet is part of a larger story, in which we are constantly trying to define our culture and history along a politically correct yardstick,” Mr Bosma told newspaper Algemeen Dagblad.

“A small group of so called anti-racists are campaigning to undermine our culture.”

Rejecting any associations with the Netherlands’ colonial past, the politician painted the controversy as part of a wider debate about the preservation of Dutch culture.

“Our culture is to capitulate. Take the required halal food in schools: a minority imposes the will of the majority. That's Islamisation,” he told the newspaper.

Mr Bosma said the debate was a fight for “our civilisation, the survival of Europe, and the West.”

Last year, a government Children’s Ombudsman called for Black Pete to be stripped of discriminatory and stereotypical characteristics.

“The figure of Zwarte Piet can contribute to bullying, exclusion or discrimination,” the ombudsman found.

“Many coloured children spoken with said they experienced discrimination in their daily lives, and that this is worse around the Sinterklaas time.”

A 2015 report by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination at the United Nations sparked vigorous debate in the Netherlands, stating that the Dutch public had insufficient awareness of the country’s colonial history.

Despite proposing the legislation weeks before voters go to the polls, Mr Bosma denied it was a campaign stunt.

“It is unfortunately not due to my brilliant political insight that this law comes shortly before the election,” he told Algemeen Dagblad.

READ MORE
Geert Wilders in narrow lead as Netherlands gears up for elections
The Dutch election will be the first in what's been branded a 'super election year' for Europe, with polls to be held in France and Germany in the coming months.

EURO POLITICS
New Year's refugee ‘sex-mob’ in Frankfurt a hoax, paper admits
Police have turned their investigations towards the 'witnesses' of the fabricated attack.
‘Act normal or go away’ Dutch PM tells immigrants
The Prime Minister's statement comes weeks ahead of national elections which show his party is behind in the polls against the far-right Freedom Party, led by Geert Wilders.
'Europe will wake up in 2017', Le Pen says in Germany
French presidential hopeful Marine Le Pen on Saturday told a European gathering of rightwing populists in Germany that a string of high-stakes elections in 2017 would blow a wind of change across the region.