Dutch push back against “Black Pete” criticism

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In this Nov. 18, 2012 file photo a child dressed as “Zwarte Piet” or “Black Pete”, right, watches a parade after St. Nicholas, or Sinterklaas, arrived by boat in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (AP Photo/ Margriet Faber, File)

by Toby Sterling
Associated Press Writer

AMSTERDAM (AP) — A Facebook page seeking to preserve the “Black Pete” clowns in blackface who accompany St. Nicholas to the Netherlands during the holidays has become the fastest-growing Dutch-language page ever, receiving 1 million “likes” in a single day.

The mushrooming popularity of the “Pete-ition” page reflects the depth of emotional attachment most Dutch people — 90 percent of whom have European ancestry — feel to a figure that helped launch the tradition of Santa Claus.