A Belgian newspaper Monday responded to intense backlash for printing a picture of President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama as apes.
De Morgen ran the photoshopped image in Saturday’s edition, calling the feature a satire that was poking fun at the ongoing tension facing the United States amid the crisis in Crimea. The image was printed days before the president’s visit to the Netherlands to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I.
“Vladimir Putin is the president of Russia,” the newspaper wrote. “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.’”
Next to the image of the Obamas as apes, a photo of President Obama was also printed with the caption “First black president of the USA starts selling weed.”
The newspaper apologized for the image on Monday, writing that they showed “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.”
Author Chika Unigwe, who lives in Belgium, tweeted the photo on Saturday.