UN: Dutch govt should lead 'Black Pete' debate

AMSTERDAM (AP) - A U.N. human rights panel says Dutch government should ensure that those who think the fantasy figure of "Black Pete" is a racist caricature are allowed to speak out.

In the Dutch holiday tradition, St. Nicholas is assisted not by elves but by "Black Petes" _ people wearing blackface makeup, "Afro" wigs and red lipstick. Most Dutch _ 90 percent of whom have European ancestry _ feel Pete is a positive figure and not offensive.

The United Nations panel said in a statement Thursday that the critics of the tradition face "virulent intolerance" from the Dutch majority.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte has said folk traditions are outside the realm of politics.


(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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