A Belgian newspaper is under fire for an image it printed showing President Barack Obama and the First Lady as apes.
The image clearly depicts the couple as two apes-- an editorial decision that has been slammed as "stale racist drivel."
Nigerian-born author Chika Unigwe tweeted a photo of the spread:
— chika unigwe (@chikaunigwe) March 22, 2014
The article was reportedly a satirical piece that also joked about Obama selling marijuana. The newspaper packaged the photos as if they had been submitted by Russian president Vladimir Putin, Metro said Sunday.
The picture was joined by a message reading, “Vladimir Putin is the president of Russia. He sent us this attachment at our request, and chose to send pictures instead of text 'because he doesn't have a lot of time',” the Independent said.
While the article has many readers outraged, there are also readers who have come to the newspapers defense. "It was a joke," one Reddit user said.
"In their defense, there are tons upon tons of pictures and t-shirts with Bush drawn as an ape," another user wrote.
De Morgen apologized for the image in its Monday edition, admitting it was guilty of "bad taste."
"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 said. "We wrongly assumed that racism is no longer accepted, and that in this way it could be the subject of a joke."
Unigwe, who lives in Belgium, went on to tweet in depth about the controversial spread, noting that the fault lies with Belgian society moreso than De Morgen:
De Morgen isn't racist. What is racist is the society that enables acts of racism to thrive with impunity #Belgium
Black people in Belgum have no political voice, no economic voice, so in a way society forgets that we exist #Belgium
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