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RACIST TRADITION: Legislators say Dutch tradition of Sinterklaas at Christmas is racist

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PARAMARIBO, Suriname, CMC – Legislators, including former president Ronald Venetiaan, have denounced the Dutch tradition of “Sinterklaas” as “a racist element that does not belong in our community”.

PARAMARIBO, Suriname, CMC – Legislators, including former president Ronald Venetiaan, have denounced the Dutch tradition of “Sinterklaas” as “a racist element that does not belong in our community”.

Sinterklaas is the bearded white man who brings children goodies with the help of his “pitch-black” helper.

 “This celebration has a racist element and doesn’t belong in our community. It should be abolished,” Venetiaan, leader of the New Front/National Party Suriname faction, told Parliament.

In an unprecedented show of support, other legislators, including those from the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) agreed with the former president’s statement.

Venetiaan said he was also concerned that Sinterklaas was even celebrated on Independence Square, which he considered a slap in the face of the “Black part of Suriname’s community”.

Parliament Chair Lady Jennifer Geerlings-Simons, who is also a leader of the NDP, said that Sinterklaas should no longer be celebrated at schools under the purview of the Ministry of Education.

 “What people do in the privacy of their homes we cannot influence,” she added.

Sinterklaas and his little helper “Zwarte Piet” are a big tradition in Holland. Every December 5, children receive gifts and cookies left in their stockings by the “Saint” who visits Dutch cities.

The tradition has survived fierce opposition in the Netherlands from the immigrant population, who feel that Sinterklaas has racist undertones. But Dutch nationals say Sinterklaas is not offensive to anyone since Zwarte Piet is not a black man, but a white helper who got black because he came down the chimney to deliver the children their gifts.

The tradition has continued here even after the country gained independence in 1975

CMC/2011

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