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Tintin in the Congo sparks Belgian legal complaint

Controversy continues to dog a specific Tintin adventure, with a Congolese student taking legal action in Belgium this week against the publisher of the Hergé comic books.

Controversy continues to dog a specific Tintin adventure, with a Congolese studenttaking legal action in Belgium this week against the publisher of the Hergé comic books.

Belgium's state prosecutor is investigating a complaint about Tintin in the Congo, filed by Mbutu Mondondo Bienvenu, a Congolese political science student studying at the Université Libre de Bruxelles.

Mondondo Bienvenu is calling for publisher Moulinsart to withdraw the book from the market.

The title, which cartoonist Hergé (Georges Remi) penned in 1931, follows the titular young reporter and adventurer on a trip to the Congo, a Belgian colony until 1960. Over the years, the title has been repeatedly attacked for its negative, demeaning depictions of Africans.

Moulinsart officials routinely defend the title as a creation that reflects a specific time period, and say the book must be read understanding the context in which it was written.

"Proper consideration is to be due to books that were made more than 75 years ago," said Charles Dierick of Moulinsart's Studio Hergé.

"If you condemn a book on such kind of basis, without taking into account the complex context in which it was made, you can throw in the dustbin of history every fiction work that was made before the 1960s."

The Belgian legal action comes soon after the infamous title's recent British controversy, when a rights watchdog denounced the book as racist and called on London bookstores totake it off their shelves. Many stores removed the title from the children's section and moved it to their adult graphic novel section.

U.K. sales of Tintin in the Congo skyrocketed amid the controversy.

In 1946, Hergé reworked the title to remove references to the Congo as a Belgian colony and, before his death in 1983, admitted that he regretted the negative stereotypes and attitudes he had expressed in his first two Tintin books, Tintin in the Land of the Soviets and Tintin in the Congo.

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