Belgian Newspaper Photoshops Obamas to Look Like Apes; Apologises

By @ibtimesau on

De Morgen, a Belgian daily, is under heavy criticism globally for its racist photo of U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama photoshopped to make them look like apes.

The offensive photo came out in the Saturday edition of De Morgen in a satire section titled The Obama Herald.  It came out four days before the official visit of Mr Obama to Belgium on Tuesday, March 25.

The paper joked that the photo was sent by Russian President Vladimir Putin who is at odds with Mr Obama over the Crimea annexation by Russia.

Belgium-based Nigerian writer Chik Unigwe tweeted the offensive images which sparked international furor. He wrote, "Who thought it was okay to publish this?" followed by the hashtag #racist.

Many Twitter members agreed with Mr Uniqwe and retweeted the image, although some defended the Belgian daily, pointing out that it was a satire.

Similar criticisms were posted in Facebook.

Andre Young wrote, "This is blatant racism and this newspaper should be punished harshly, we all know world leaders are characterized and mocked but to do that to the mans wife is a disgrace, ,humanity will never move forward if we constantly subhumanise others."

Reece Biudole said, "This is NOT freedom of speech. This is purely insulting and reflect on the country itself!!"

De Morgan editors apologised for the article titled Is De Morgen Racist? The editor said the photo was a tasteless joke based on the wrong assumption "that racism is no longer accepted" and could be the subject of a joke.

In response to the apology, Francois Douglas said, "No need to apologize, the damage is already done. It was a deliberate act. NOTE: apes are more intelligent than racist people."

It is not the first time that Mr Obama has been portrayed as an ape. In 2012, California Republican Marilyn Davenport sent a racist tea party email that included an image of the president as an ape.

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