BRUSSELS Feb 13 A Belgian court has
rejected an application to ban a colonial-era book about the
Congolese adventures of cartoon character Tintin for breaching
racism laws, court documents showed.
Brussels' court of first instance said it did not believe
the 1946 edition of "Tintin in the Congo" was intended to incite
racial hatred, a criteria when deciding if something breaks
Belgium's racism laws. The decision was issued late on Friday.
The Adventures of Tintin, a series of comic books created by
Belgian artist Georges Remi, who wrote under the pen name Herge,
has gained renewed, global popularity in the past year after
Hollywood director Stephen Spielberg made an animated film about
the intrepid boy journalist and his little white dog Snowy.
Tintin in the Congo was the second book Herge produced, with
the plot revolving around Tintin's escapades in the former
Belgian colony, including encounters with diamond smugglers, big
game hunters and wild animals.
In 2007, Congolese campaigner Bienvenu Mbutu Mondondo
launched legal proceedings to try to get the book banned,
arguing that its portrayal of Africans was racist.
Tintin in the Congo, which was first serialised in 1930-31
and reissued in 1946, has always attracted criticism. Herge
himself said later in life that he wasn't happy with the work,
which was only published in English in 1991.
However, the Belgian court said the 1946 book was created at
a time when colonial ideas were prevalent. There was no evidence
that Herge, who died in 1983, intended to incite racism, it
"It is clear that neither the story, nor the fact that it
has been put on sale, has a goal to ... create an intimidating,
hostile, degrading or humiliating environment," the court said
in its judgment.
Mbutu Mondondo's lawyer said he planned to appeal.
"Mr Mbutu will take this case as far as he can," lawyer
Ahmed L'Hedim told Reuters, saying more information would be
provided at a news conference later in the week.
(Reporting By Ben Deighton, editing by Paul Casciato)