The Mayor of Eindhoven, John Jorritsma, has apologised after the commotion caused by his Carnaval outfit.
The D66 and Denk political parties asked questions about the outfit. The Mayor posted a tweet during Carnaval. He can be seen on the photo with a sign reading, ‘BLOKKEER-FRIES’ (‘BLOCK FRISIAN’). The opposition parties called this ‘provocative and incomprehensible’, and demanded an apology from him. The term ‘blokkeer-Fries’ refers to the people who hindered the demonstration against Zwarte Piet (Black Peter) by obstructing the A7 highway.
So, Jorritsma has now said sorry and stresses that everything came about after an unfortunate coincidence. The outfit, he says, was part of a Carnaval campaign. It revolved around the dismissal of the well-known Frisian weatherman, Piet Paulusma, who celebrated Carnaval in Eindhoven. It was meant to show him support. Along with members of the Carnaval Association, also rigged out in Frisian gear, the parade was disturbed by ‘barriers’. They added the words, ‘Block Frisians – we do not accept SBS6 without Piet’. SBS6 is a Dutch commercial TV channel.
In addition, Jorritsma was invited to usher in Carnaval with former Carnaval ‘Princes’. The Mayor was then given a hat with Frisian decorations and a sash. He did not read the text at that moment, Jorritsma says. Jorritsma: “I understand, with hindsight, that the term ‘Block Frisians’, even if it is used for a fun Carnaval campaign, is publicly linked to, in particular, the demonstration against the Kick Out Zwarte Piet action group.”
“The (re)tweets of the Carnaval photo reinforced the idea that I agree with the views of the ‘Blocking’ Frisians from (the town of) Dokkum. I, myself, did not make the connection at that time. If I could turn back the clock, I would. I regret that people were offended by the Carnaval outfit.”
“As Mayor, I have always been committed to freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate. That was the reason why I, as agreed, allowed a Kick Out Zwarte Piet demonstration in November, in a visible place along the route, when Sinterklaas arrived,” Jorritsma says.
Translated by: Bob
Edited by: Melinda