In advance of President Obama’s visit to Belgium this week, Flemish newspaper De Morgen
published an image of the president and his wife that have led to allegations of racism.
The images, one of which depicts the Obamas as apes and another that includes text about President Obama selling marijuana, were part of the paper’s satire section. De Morgen
presented the images as having been sent to the paper by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
A commenter on Reddit called the images
“stale racist drivel,” and Nigerian author Chika Unigwe tweeted a photo of the newspaper, stating that he “forgot to laugh.”
Obama’s visit to Europe is focused on tightening sanctions on Russia after the country moved to annex Crimea.
published an apology for the article Monday calling the photos a “tasteless joke.”
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“We plead guilty of bad taste,” the apology states, according to a translation on the site Flanders News
When you consider the fragment apart from its context, which is a properly worked out satirical section, then you don't see the joke but just a picture evoking sheer racism. That was a risk we didn't consider enough beforehand.
We wrongly assumed that racism is no longer tolerated anywhere, and that as a result it could be the subject of a joke.
’s political slant is typically a progressive one. Flanders News states that the paper “enjoys a solid anti-racist reputation.”