Offensive as Tintin au Congo may be, recourse to the law is misguided and counterproductive.
By Jogchum Vrielink
Tintin is experiencing new and exciting adventures these days. Not just in the cinema, but in Belgian courts as well.
Bienvenu Mbuto Mondondo, a Congolese national studying in Brussels, filed suit to obtain an injunction against the continued publication, distribution and sale of Hergé’s comic book Tintin in the Congo (Tintin au Congo), as well as seeking to have the book withdrawn from bookshops and libraries in Belgium. Mondondo did so on the basis of alleged violations of the Belgian anti-racism legislation. In subsidiary order he demanded that a disclaimer be printed on the comic’s cover, warning of its offensive nature, along with the inclusion of an introduction of a similar nature. Mondondo was supported in his claims by the minority organization Conseil représentatif des associations noires (Cran).
On 10 February 2012, the Brussels Court of First Instance rejected all the applicants’ claims. The Court also rejected the counterclaims by Casterman, the series’ publisher, and Moulinsart, the company which was set up to protect and promote the work of Hergé. Both had asked for 15,000 euros as compensation for ‘vexatious proceedings’.
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