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AfD 'Slave Market' poster raises hackles

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Berlin (AFP)

A European elections campaign poster by Germany's AfD featuring a 19th-century painting called "The Slave Market" has raised hackles, with a US art museum demanding that the far-right party withdraw the advert.

The Berlin chapter of Germany's anti-immigration party has featured in its campaign poster the 1866 painting of turban-wearing and bearded men scrutinising a naked woman, along with the slogans "Europeans vote AfD", "so that Europe doesn't become 'Eurabic'".

But the Massachusetts-based Clark Art Institute, which owns the painting by French artist Jean-Leon Gerome, has protested against the use of the work after seeing the AfD poster on Twitter.

"We strongly condemn the use of the painting to advance AfD's political stance and have written to them insisting that they cease and desist in using this painting," said Olivier Meslay, the institute's director.

"The Clark Art Institute owns the painting and we are strongly opposed to the use of this work to advance any political agenda. We did not supply this image to the AfD Berlin," he added.

However, Meslay conceded that as the painting is in the public domain, "there are no copyrights or permissions that allow us to exert control over how it is used other than to appeal to civility on the part of the AfD Berlin".

The AfD was not immediately available for comment.

The poster has also sparked a storm on social media.

Writing on Twitter, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU party, Serap Guler, said: "No, true Europeans don't elect racists.

"True Europeans do not defend Europe with fear and hate.

"Above all, they don't elect parties that want to dissolve the EU and do not care for what Europe stands for."

The AfD is no stranger to controversial advertising.

During the 2017 general election campaign, it plastered provocative posters across Germany, declaring "Burkas? We prefer bikinis" and "New Germans? Let's make them ourselves", featuring a pregnant white woman.

It has become the biggest opposition party by railing against Merkel and her 2015 decision to allow a mass influx of asylum seekers.

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