Days before President Obama is scheduled to lay a wreath at Flanders Field in Belgium on Wednesday to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, a local newspaper published images of the president and First Lady Michelle Obama depicted as apes.
According to the publication, De Morgan, the feature was meant to be a satirical take on the tension between Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin over the crisis in Crimea.
“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 is a photo of the president with a caption that reads, "The First Black President of the USA Starts Selling Weed."
Nigerian author Chika Unigwe, who lives in Belgium, tweeted the photo over the weekend. Clearly offended by the "satire," he wrote, "I forgot to laugh. #racist."
The publication on Monday apologized for the item, acknowledging that it was in "bad taste."
"We wrongly assumed that racism is no longer tolerated anywhere, and that as a result it could be the subject of a joke," De Morgan said in a statement reported by Flanders news. "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."
The New York Post faced similar backlash in 2009 after publishing a political cartoon comparing the president to a chimpanzee. In its apology, the Post also said that racism wasn't the intent.
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(Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)