Belgian Paper Apologises After Insulting Obama Image
Belgian newspaper De Morgen has issued a full page apology after publishing an insulting image of U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle.
The paper – founded in 1978, and owned by one of the largest multimedia corporations in Belgium – published a satire section in its Saturday edition entitled 'The Obama Herald'. One element of the page contained a picture of Barack and Michelle Obama doctored to have faces like apes.
Breitbart London was the first to report on the matter which sparked outrage across social media. The response has prompted an official apology from De Morgen's editors which roughly translated says:
"Obviously this was meant as a joke, but it was completely wrong. Many see a trivialisation of racism....
"[There should be] perspective with satire, but the joke has to work. The fallacy is the belief that racism is no longer generally accepted, and that therefore it can be laughed safely. It was intended as an absurd joke to make [Obama] into a monkey...
"It is very understandable that some people feel hurt by the attempted satire in the newspaper. Laughing at racism, as it turns out now, is a thin line. That's not even about free speech, but good taste...
"De Morgen offers its apologies to anyone who feels offended by the relevant passage in the newspaper. Sorry. We are in this case guilty of bad taste. With equal conviction as always, we remain on the side of all those multitudes fighting against all forms of racism."
De Morgen was founded in 1978 after the merger of two socialist newspapers, the VolksGazet (People's Gazette) and Volksruin (Forward). The PressEurop.eu website says the paper was "modelled on the French daily Libération" and "terms itself an 'independent and progressive quality daily'". Its circulation as of 2011 was around 70,000 readers per day.
Its parent firm, the multi-million Euro conglomerate De Persgroep Nederland (Press Group) is owned by the wealthy Van Thillo family in Belgium. The group is regarded as one of the most "powerful" media organisations in the Flanders region of Belgium, and ranks in third place for size in the media industry in the country. De Persgroep also owns the largest daily newspaper in Belgium, Het Laatste Nieuws (The Latest News), founded in 1888 by liberal writer Julius Hoste Sr.