Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders was criticized for coloring his face black during a charity rally in Brussels, Reuters reported Thursday. His actions reportedly gave rise to questions about the country's lack of a national anti-racism plan.
Reynders reportedly joined Les Noirauds (the Blacks), an organization founded in 1876, which raises money for children's charities, for a march last Saturday. The 56-year-old was pictured with a blackened face and a white top hat. Participants reportedly dressed up in clothes symbolic of nineteenth century African noblemen. Reynders also posted the pictures on Twitter and his blog.
— didier reynders (@dreynders) March 14, 2015
Reynders' actions were reportedly condemned by human rights activists. Wouter Van Bellingen, the director of Minority Forum, said on Twitter that the country did not have a national anti-racism plan even after committing in 2001 at a United Nations conference in South Africa that it would devise one.
"In other civilized countries his political career wouldn't survive this, but in Belgium he just continues," Nigerian-born author Chika Unigwe said, according to Reuters.
Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch tweeted: "Belgium FM @Dreynders I have question: will u wear #blackface outfit 2 next meeting with African leaders? Shame on you!.”
On Thursday, several social media users took to Twitter to condemn the foreign minister’s actions.
— Joseph Willits (@josephwillits) March 19, 2015
— Peter Bouckaert (@bouckap) March 19, 2015
— Nadia Ali (@nadiaalie) March 19, 2015
It's disappointing, but not surprising that Belgium's foreign minister did blackface.
— Duty Free (@dutyfreecritic) March 19, 2015
— Lotte Leicht (@LotteLeicht1) March 19, 2015
Belgium's foreign minister Reynders is accused of racism for dressing in blackface, in some weird Brussels tradition: pic.twitter.com/9GA8sSSs3a
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) March 19, 2015