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Pepe the Frog, racist hate meme, finally croaks

© AFP/File | America's so-called alt-right turned Pepe the Frog into their own mascot both online and at demonstrations

WASHINGTON (AFP) - 

Pepe the Frog, the cartoon character hijacked by the far right and turned into a symbol of racial hatred, has been killed off by its horrified creator.

The cartoon amphibian started out life in 2005 as a harmless character in Matt Furie's online "Boy's Club" strip, but was adopted by white supremacists and extreme-right hate groups, who depicted the frog dressed as Adolf Hitler and as a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

Furie published a short strip that showed a deceased Pepe lying in an open casket, being mourned by other figures from the original Boy's Club series.

Furie had lamented the hijacking of his cartoon character -- whom he once described as a "blissfully stoned... peaceful frog-dude" -- by the so-called alt-right, who turned it into their own mascot both online and at demonstrations.

Last year, the Anti-Defamation League, America's top Jewish activist group, added the frog to its list of designated hate symbols, alongside the Nazi swastika and the "Blood Drop Cross" of the KKK.

Pepe was even included in a meme last year alongside then- presidential candidate Donald Trump in a mock-up of the movie The Expendables, relabeled "The Deplorables" after Democratic runner Hillary Clinton's comments about prejudice among Trump supporters. The image was then posted on Instagram by Trump's son, Donald Jr.

Furie made no immediate comment about killing off his most infamous character, but posted the cartoon of the frog's funeral on social media.

The internet was quick to fight back though, with images posted on Twitter of Pepe dressed as Jesus and the caption "He is risen."

Another Twitter user wrote, "And you really think this will stop Pepe?"

© 2017 AFP