Belgian court's adviser says Tintin book not racist

Mon Oct 31, 2011 12:44pm EDT
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By Ben Deighton

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A Belgian judicial adviser has recommended the country's courts reject a legal bid to have a book featuring fictional boy hero Tintin banned for racism, court documents showed.

Valery de Theux de Meylandt, a Belgian Procureur du Roi whose opinion is requested and typically followed by the court, advised judges in a written statement to rule against campaigner Bienvenu Mbutu Mondondo's application to have "Tintin in the Congo" banned for racism.

De Theux de Meylandt said in the document dated Friday and seen by Reuters that Tintin author Georges Remi (better known as Herge) did not intend to incite racial hatred when he depicted his cartoon hero on an adventure in the former Belgian colony in a 1931 work that was updated in 1946.

"The representations (of African people) by Herge are a reflection of his time," de Theux de Meylandt wrote.

Intention is a key criteria in substantiating a charge of racism. The court is expected to deliver a judgment early next year rejecting or accepting Mondondo's argument that the book's depiction of Africans is racist.

"We see in particular that Tintin in the Congo does not put Tintin in a situation where there is competition or confrontation between the young reporter and any black or group of blacks, but pits Tintin against a group of gangsters ... who are white," de Theux de Meylandt also wrote in the statement.

Tintin in the Congo was one of a series of comic books about the adventures of a boy journalist and his dog Snowy, which were first published in 1931. Mondondo has taken aim at the modern version of the updated 1946 book.

The court case comes at a time when Tintin's popularity is on a comeback with a new Hollywood film from director Stephen Spielberg about the intrepid Belgian boy journalist on an adventure alongside Snowy, Captain Haddock and Inspector Thompson.

(Reporting by Ben Deighton, editing by Paul Casciato)