A Belgian court has rejected an application to ban a colonial-era book about the Congolese adventures of cartoon character Tintin for supposedly breaching racism laws, court documents showed.
Brussels' court of first instance said it did not believe the 1946 edition of Tintin in the Congo was intended to incite racial hatred, a criteria when deciding if something breaks Belgium's racism laws. The decision was issued late on Friday.
The Adventures of Tintin, a series of comic books created by Belgian artist Georges Remi, who wrote under the pen name Hergé, has gained renewed, global popularity in the past year after Hollywood director Steven Spielberg made an animated film about the intrepid boy journalist and his little white dog Snowy.
Tintin in the Congo was Hergé's second book, with the plot evolving in the former Belgian colony, including encounters with diamond smugglers, big game hunters and wild animals.
In 2007, Congolese campaigner Bienvenu Mbutu Mondondo launched legal proceedings to ban the book, arguing its portrayal of Africans was racist.
Tintin in the Congo, which was first serialised in 1930-31 and reissued in 1946, has always attracted criticism. Hergé himself said later in life that he wasn't happy with the work, which was only published in English in 1991.
However, the Belgian court said the 1946 book was created at a time when colonial ideas were prevalent. There was no evidence that Hergé, who died in 1983, intended to incite racism, it said. “It is clear that neither the story, nor the fact that it has been put on sale, has a goal to ... create an intimidating, hostile, degrading or humiliating environment,” the court said.