People dressed as 'Black Pete'
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Dutch' Black Pete' figure criticised by academic

16 November 2013 Last updated at 19:10 GMT

It is one of the most popular Dutch traditions but according to the UN, one element is racist and should be abolished. This weekend the iconic figure of Black Pete has arrived in towns and cities throughout the Netherlands.

It's a curtain raiser for the festive season and features a white person made up, wearing black face-paint and a curly Afro wig. Calls to ban it have caused outrage. Why is it so important in a country that's famous for promoting equality, asks the BBC's Anna Holligan.