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EU 'Peace' Video Backfires After Allegations Of Racism

The European Commission has decided to withdraw the video after complaints of racism.
The European Commission has decided to withdraw the video after complaints of racism.
BRUSSELS -- The European Commission has withdrawn an Internet video intended to promote EU enlargement after widespread allegations of both racism and sexism.

The 127,000 euro ($168,000) clip shows three men from various ethnic minorities using different threatening martial-arts skills surrounding a young white woman dressed in a yellow jumpsuit similar to that worn by the heroine in the Hollywood hit movies "Kill Bill."

The three men include a Kung Fu master from East Asia, a black man practicing the Brazilian art of Capoeira, and an Asian man doing Kalaripayattu moves.

As the three men approach the woman in the center of an abandoned warehouse, she splits into multiple versions of herself, forming a circle around the three men. They appear pacified and drop their weapons as her multiple forms turn into the 12 stars of the EU flag.

The 90-second video, called "Growing Together," was supposed to "communicate European policies" such as the "idea of respect, harmony, and working together," according to EU enlargement spokesman Peter Stano.

Stano says the film was aimed at people aged 16-24 and was supposed to be shown on various social-networking sites. He noted that it received positive reactions when it was first shown to a specifically chosen focus group and that Brussels decided to go ahead with it -- but that people from other target audiences disapproved of it once it went viral.

"This particular clip was designed to target this specific group of young people in their language and through their channels," Stano says.

"That means that we chose a language and symbolism which is very well understandable for this generation, for this type of young people, which is video games, environment, themes of martial arts, action, and thriller movies."

Stano says the European Commission decided to take it off the Internet and apologize after many people perceived it as racist.

"We want to communicate Europe. We didn't want to spend the energy and the attention on engaging in argumentations so we decided to withdraw the clip."

Despite the EU's withdrawal of the video, copies available on YouTube are still eliciting comments.

"This is stupid and racist, look at the stereotype. Pathetic," wrote one viewer. "Pure racism," wrote another.

Not everyone was so harsh. "But this ad shows that Europeans believe [in] peace and negotiation instead of playing muscles like America or the BRICs [Brazil, Russia, India, and China]," wrote another YouTube viewer.
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    Rikard Jozwiak

    Rikard Jozwiak is the Europe editor for RFE/RL in Prague, focusing on coverage of the European Union and NATO. He previously worked as RFE/RL’s Brussels correspondent, covering numerous international summits, European elections, and international court rulings. He has reported from most European capitals, as well as Central Asia.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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