Banning Belgian cartoon hero Tintin is like book burning

Last Updated: Jun 02, 2010, 14:08 PM IST

London: Banning Tintin in the Congo for racism is a form of "book burning", said lawyers acting for the estate of Herge— the Belgian cartoon hero`s creator.

Belgium`s courts are investigating whether Tintin`s 1931 Congolese adventures, when the country was a Belgian colony, had racist attitude towards black Africans.

Alain Berenboom, a lawyer for the estate of Georges Remi, the Tintin cartoonist who worked under the Herge pen-name, attacked the calls to censor the book which was published for over 70 years before being accused of racism.

"I cannot accept racism but I consider it equally lamentable that we burn books. To ban books is to burn them," the Telegraph quoted him as saying.

"It has never caused public order problems, including in Africa,” he added.

Bienvenu Mbutu Mondondo, a Brussels-based Congolese man, has spent the last three years pursuing Tintin`s copyright holders and publisher in the civil and criminals courts.

"This book contains images and dialogue of a manifestly racist and offensive nature not only to blacks but to the whole of humanity," said Ahmed L`Hedim, Mondondo`s lawyer.

"It is simply unbearable to my client that his children could come across this book and feel insulted,” he added.

In 2007, Britain`s Commission for Racial Equality accused the Tintin book of making black Africans "look like monkeys and talk like imbeciles".

In fact, British editions of Tintin Au Congo have not been banned, but now they are sold with a band of paper around the cover, warning the content is offensive.

Allegations of racism surrounding the Tintin book are deeply sensitive in Belgium, a small country where the intrepid boy reporter and his dog Snowy are a rare national symbol, and where postcolonial guilt over its record in the Congo is acute.