A Belgian newspaper apologized Monday after it was accused of racism for running a satirical feature that depicted President Barack Obama as an ape.
Ahead of Obama’s planned visit to the country, Flemish daily De Morgen ran an image Saturday in its “The Daily Herald” satirical section — titled “The Obama Herald” for the occasion — that doctored a photo of the President and First Lady Michelle Obama to make them look like two apes, according to The Independent.
— chika unigwe (@chikaunigwe) March 22, 2014
The doctored image was presented as if submitted to the paper by Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to The Independent. A second image of Obama was printed with the text “First black president of the USA starts selling weed.”
De Morgen apologized on page 2 of its Monday edition for what it called a “tasteless joke” and admitted that its editors overlooked the racist overtones that a comparison between blacks and monkeys carries, according to Flandersnews, the English-language arm of Flemish public broadcaster VRT.
“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,” the newspaper wrote in its statement, as quoted by Flandersnews. “That was a risk we didn’t consider enough beforehand.”
The New York Post similarly apologized for running a political cartoon that compared Obama to a chimpanzee in 2009, although it maintained the cartoon wasn’t intended to be racist. Flandersnews noted that De Morgen, a left-wing publication, had a solid anti-racist reputation in Belgium.
Obama is scheduled to meet with Belgian officials Wednesday in Brussels, according to the White House.
h/t Huffington Post
This post has been updated.