Dutch Santa Claus sidekick, Black Pete, is offensive, judge rules

Saint Nicholas (L) waves next to one of his assistants called

Saint Nicholas (L) waves next to one of his assistants called "Zwarte Piet" (Black Pete) during a traditional parade in central Brussels December 1, 2012. The Netherlands and Belgium are two countries that pride themselves on progressive laws and open societies, but critics say they are stuck in the dark ages when it comes to depictions of Santa Claus and his helpers. Saint Nicholas, or "Sinterklaas" in Dutch, brings presents to children on December 5 in the Netherlands and on December 6 in Belgium, and is always accompanied by at least one assistant dressed in 17th century costume who has a blackened face. Picture taken December 1, 2012. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:19 PM ET

An Amsterdam court has ruled Black Pete, the Dutch sidekick to Santa Claus, is offensive and the city should rethink using the character in its annual Christmas parade.

"Many black Amsterdammers feel discriminated against by Zwarte Piet, which intrudes on their private lives," the judge ruled Thursday, the Amsterdam Herald reported.

Zwarte Piet, known as Black Pete in English, is often portrayed by white people wearing blackface. The use of the character in holiday events has become controversial in the Netherlands, although some people maintain Black Pete is a harmless fictional character.

The judge was ruling on whether the city would be allowed to go ahead with its annual Sinterklaas arrival parade, which includes the controversial character. The judge ruled the parade could go ahead, but the city must reconsider using Black Pete.

A city spokesman said the mayor would study the judgment closely before making a decision about the future of the parade.


A woman dressed as "Zwarte Piet" (Black Pete), the helper of Saint Nicholas, throws candy from the balcony of the City Hall at Brussels' Grand Place December 1, 2012. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

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