There is no legal justification to back up racial discrimination or racism around the figures of black Peter or Saint-Nicolas according to the federal Centre of migration and equal opportunities located in Brussels. The Centre nevertheless believes that the discussion around the Saint-Nicolas celebration in the Netherlands could serve for constructive debates for the society we want to live in.
The Centre cites articles 20 and 21 in the law against racism from July 30th 1981 which specifies a “specific intention”, and this is not the case with the black Peter figure, the Centre recalls.
It would have been the case, if there had been concrete representations of one of the figures associated in actions that have civil legally punishable racist acts.
The Centre encourages a debate on how black Peter should be presented differently in future celebrations of this old popular festivity and not like a “stupid black man, inferior or dangerous”.
In the Netherlands, a controversy broke out last year regarding the black Peter character. It led so far that the mayor of Amsterdam imposed guidelines that some black Peter characters that will parade this November 16 mustn’t be totally coloured in black and not carry any ear rings either.
Oscar Schneider (Source: Belga)