Controversial Black Pete celebrations in the Netherlands.

Hindus are urging ban on usage of pejorative term “allochtoon” in all official forums in Netherlands, which is commonly used to refer to immigrants and their descendants, and which literally means “emerging from another soil”.

Many of the so-called allochtoons were born in Netherlands and they and foreign born allochtoons were as good contributors to the nation and society as any autochtoon (literal “emerging from this soil”) and deserved the same respect, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed pointed out in a statement in Nevada today.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, indicated that this highly stigmatizing, divisive and outdated term had no place in 21st century Netherlands as it unfavorably distinguished people forced into the allochtoon compartment (who now formed a substantial portion of the Netherlands population) from the rest of the Dutch.

How fair was it to call somebody allochtoon who was born in Netherlands to even with one parent born abroad (and other born in Netherlands), while the person who is born outside Netherlands was still an autochtoon if his/her both parents were born in the Netherlands? Rajan Zed asked.

Even the allochtoon people were further categorized as “Western” and “non-Western”, which was very sad, Zed added.

Hindus also want Netherlands to retire the character of Black Pete (Zwarte Piet), who appeared with Sinterklaas during winter holiday celebrations. It was time for the negative, offensive, racist and discriminatory caricature of Black Pete to vanish from the traditional festivities of Netherlands. Black Pete might be a popular Dutch tradition but it appeared to be a racist throwback to the slavery era, Rajan Zed said.

The country also needed to offer an official apology regarding Dutch involvement in trans-Atlantic slave trade during 17th-19th centuries, with Netherlands being one of the last countries to abolish slavery, Zed stated.

Rajan Zed further said that it was absolutely baffling to see the Country of Rembrandt and Van Gogh, which had a long history of social tolerance and which hosted International Court of Justice, in the business of such negative stereotyping and xenophobia, which should have been extinct many decades ago; Zed said and asked: Was not Netherlands famous for promoting equality?

Netherlands needed to show strong political will to end such xenophobia and racism and demeaning labeling and treat all Dutch people as equal contributors to the society and look forward to a shared future and equal opportunities for all, Zed stressed.

Rajan Zed urged His Majesty King Willem-Alexander and Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands to urgently intervene to put an end to “allochtoon” and “Black Pete” and push for official apology on country’s involvement in slavery.

Zed suggested His Holiness Pope Francis and other religious leaders to also come out with strong statements on these issues, as religions were supposed to speak against racism.


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