July 11, 2007 / 5:42 PM / in 11 years

UK group asks shops to remove "racist" Tintin book

Wednesday (Reuters Life!) - An official British racism watchdog recommended on Wednesday that bookshops across the country remove copies of a comic book which tells the tale of fictional Belgian hero Tintin’s adventures in the Congo.

Britain’s Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) recommended that “Tintin in the Congo” be removed from shelves after it received a complaint from a member of the public who had seen it in a branch of the Borders chain of book stores.

“Whichever way you look at it, the content of this book is blatantly racist,” the CRE said in a statement. “Highstreet shops, and indeed any shops, ought to think very carefully about whether they ought to be selling and displaying it.”

“Tintin in the Congo” is the second in a series of 23 books which depict the intrepid travels of a fictional young journalist named Tintin and his dog Snowy. The character was conceived by Belgian George Remi. Remi signed his works Hergé, the French pronunciation of his initials in reverse.

Hergé, Tintin and most specifically “Tintin in the Congo” are no stranger to criticism. Critics have accused Tintin’s creator of being a racist and have blasted the Congo adventure for its scenes of violence against animals.

Supporters say some Tintin books championed native populations in the face of business-minded whites.

The tufty-haired Tintin and his trusty white dog Snowy first appeared in 1929 and featured in adventures until 1976, selling more than 200 million copies worldwide.

The CRE said it is calling on Borders and all other bookshops to remove the Congo book from their shelves, saying it made black people “look like monkeys and talk like imbeciles”.

“This book contains imagery and words of hideous racial prejudice, where the ‘savage natives’ look like monkeys and talk like imbeciles,” the CRE said. “How and why do Borders think that it’s okay to peddle such racist material?”

Borders did not immediately respond to queries from Reuters.

However, London’s Metro commuter newspaper quoted a Borders spokesman saying that it was moving the Tintin book from the children’s to the adult graphic novels section of its store.

“Naturally, some of the thousands of books and music selections we carry could be considered controversial or objectionable depending on individual political views, tastes and interests,” the spokesman told Metro.

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