‘Tintin in the Congo’ not racist, Belgian court rules

A Brussels court has rejected a legal bid to ban “Tintin in the Congo”, the second adventure of Belgian writer Hergé’s globe-trotting boy reporter. Black associations in the country claimed the book contained racist stereotypes.


“Tintin in the Congo” - a classic 1920s comic strip about Belgium's celebrated fictional boy reporter - is not racist, a Brussels court ruled on Wednesday.

The Brussels Appeals Court upheld a 2011 ruling against Congolese immigrant Bienvenu Mbutu Mondondo and the Belgian Council of Black Associations, who wanted the book banned.

In 2010 Mbutu, who lives in Belgium, Congo’s former colonial ruler, said Tintin employed a little black helper who was seen as “stupid and without qualities”.

“It makes people think that blacks have not evolved,” he said.

In one scene, a black woman prostrates herself before Tintin, saying: “White man very great. White mister is big juju man.”

‘Gentle and candid humour’

Alain Amici, lawyer for the plaintiffs, told the court in 2011: “The negative stereotypes portrayed in this book are still read by a significant number of children. They have an impact on their behaviour.”

Not so, said Brussels judges, for whom “Tintin in the Congo” is full of “gentle and candid humour”.

The cartoon strip, written in the late 1920s, was Belgian writer Hergé’s second Tintin adventure. It was followed by stories in which the author tried to add greater realism and historical accuracy.

Hergé himself recognised that “Tintin in the Congo” was a “youthful sin” that reflected the prejudices of the time.

In 2007 a British court ruled that “Tintin in the Congo” should be sold with a warning that it includes racist content.

Mbutu has also tried to have the cartoon banned in France, unsuccessfully.

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