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NSS opens with Dutch PM Mark Rutte making discriminatory statements

On Friday, the NLTimes reported that Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has re-affirmed that he stands behind his statements regarding Geert Wilders' anti-Moroccan rhetoric. The Netherlands Institute for Human Rights, released a statement last week denouncing Wilders racially discriminatory statements towards Dutch-Moroccans. The institute pointed out that it is the duty of the acting Dutch government to protect the Dutch citizens from this type of hateful rhetoric. A few days after he had denounced the racially discriminatory statements the first time, Rutte made the same mistake during the opening speech of the Nuclear Security Summit, in The Hague.

During the opening press conference of the Nuclear Security Summit, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte compared the people of the former Dutch-Antilles with the controversial blackface caricature "Black Pete".

On Sunday, during the opening speech of the NSS Rutte said that he did not support the statements of the Netherlands Institute of Human Rights, that Black Pete is a racist element that has been added to the Dutch holiday "Sinterklaas". He also added that his "friends in the Dutch Antilles are very happy when they have to play [Black Pete during] Sinterklaas, because they don’t have to paint their faces, and when I am playing for Black Pete I have for days try to get that black stuff off my face.”.

Rutte began his speech by welcoming the world to the Netherlands. He made it clear that the summit wouldn't just be used to discuss nuclear security but also current issues. The current civil unrest in Kiev, Ukraine, was one of the current events that would be discussed during the summit. By addressing these social issues, Rutte believes that the international community would have a better change of successfully achieving nuclear security. Rutte was asked how he would be able to guarantee nuclear security in the Netherlands, since he has had a track record of selectively dealing with social issues. His inconsistent track recorder can be attributed to his lackadaisical attitude towards addressing the current social tension surrounding Black Pete.

The Dutch who celebrate "Sinterklaas" do not interpret the holiday as being racist or having racist elements. Black Pete is perceived as a fun loving character, who brings the children candy and toys.

The Netherlands Institute of Human Rights, have said that the blackface caricature Black Pete is a racist element, that has been added to the Dutch Saint Nicholas holiday. They believe that it is racist because Black Pete depicts negative black stereotypes that can be attributed to the characters behavior and depiction. Rutte said that he didn't agree with the statements from the institute. He finished by saying that the Dutch Saint Nicholas holiday is for the children and that it has no racist elements what so ever.

On November 21, 2013, United Nations human rights experts advised the Dutch Government "to facilitate the growing national debate on whether the portrayal of a servant [Black Pete] in an age-old Christmas parade perpetuates a negative stereotype of Africans and people of African descent.". Before arriving in the Netherlands, the U.N. human rights experts received death threats. After publishing they're findings, it was ignored by the Dutch government, in part because of statement made by U.N. expert Verena Shepard. During an interview she said that in her personal opinion, she finds Black Pete to be racist and a throw-back to slavery. After completing they're investigation, Shepard signed the final report that was submitted to the Dutch government. Later it was found that Shepard wasn't authorized to sign the report.

Rutte supports the statements made by the institute regarding Wilders, but doesn't support they're statements regarding Black Pete. This could be interpreted as contradictory behavior and it indirectly undermines the power that the institute could have in providing every Dutch citizens with equal human rights.

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