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Belgium newspaper De Morgen has apologized for depicting President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama as apes on their cover after coming under fire over the weekend, reports Huffington Post.


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De Morgen, known as a progressive newspaper, claims that the cover and accompanying article were attempts at satire meant to skewer racism, not perpetuate it.

That didn’t work out too well for them.

News.Be translates the apology below:

“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 accepted, and that in this way it could be the subject of a joke”, De Morgen continues. The editors say that 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.”

The “joke” was supposed to be that the image was submitted by Russia’s president Vladimir Putin in light of the Cold-War relationship currently growing between the United States and Russia.

Obama traveled to the Netherlands this morning in an attempt to gain support for stiffer sanctions against Russia, making the timing of the “satirical” piece even more startling.

Nigerian-born journalist Chikwa Unigwe tweeted the image and explained it in context of structural and interpersonal racism in Belgium, sparking swift and sharp social media reaction.