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.
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