De Morgen apologises for Obama cartoon

The Flemish daily De Morgen has offered apologies for the Obama cartoon that was shown in its satirical section "The Daily Herald" on Saturday. The digital collage compares the Obamas with monkeys and triggered numerous international reactions. De Morgen says they made an error of judgement.

De Morgen dedicated a whole section to Barack Obama's upcoming visit to Belgium in its weekend edition. The weekly satirical page "The Daily Herald" was completely devoted to the American president and was baptised "The Obama Herald" for the occasion.

The page contains fictitious tweets by Obama, some articles and also a cartoon. It shows a photo that the Russian president Vladimir Putin allegedly sent to De Morgen, showing Barack and Michelle with a monkey face (photo below).

"Guilty of bad taste"

Today, De Morgen openly apologises for this "tasteless joke". On page 2, the daily writes that "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", the statement goes.

"We wrongly assumed that racism is no longer tolerated anywhere, and that as a result it could be the subject of a joke", De Morgen continues. The editors say that they overlooked the fact that in the United States, the comparison between blacks and monkeys is still something that pops up regularly today. 

De Morgen therefore apologises to everyone who may feel insulted by the cartoon. "In this case, we plead guilty of bad taste. We continue to be on the side of those that are battling any form of racism. Don't hesitate to contact us if we would go too far on a different occasion." De Morgen enjoys a solid anti-racist reputation in Belgium as a left-wing daily.