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Dutch police have arrested around 90 people during a protest over ‘Black Pete’ – St Nicholas’s controversial black-faced companion.
Most arrests were made when people protested in a non-designated zone in the town of Gouda.
Scuffles broke out at a re-enactment of the St Nicholas story. Many see ‘Black Pete’ as a racial stereotype, while others say it is not linked to race.
“All I’m against is black faces. That’s all. No black faces,” explained one protester.
Another went further, saying: “As descendants of slaves, who have been abused by the Netherlands, we don’t agree that about 300 black lookalike slaves come along here with Saint Nicholas.”
A woman defending the practice said: “All those people who have a problem with ‘Black Pete’… It’s our tradition. Leave it alone. You have your traditions, so why can’t we?”
The tradition is attracting mounting controversy.
Amsterdam’s regional court has said the image of ‘Black Pete’ gives rise to racial stereotyping and has ordered the city’s authorities to review the festival.