The Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ), one of Germany's most respected liberal publications, apologized on Sunday for publishing a picture of a black arm reaching up between a pair of white female legs in its weekend edition.
The image was illustrating an article in which a psychologist claimed that for young Muslim men, every meeting with a woman is a highly sexualized encounter. The image could still be found illustrating the article on-line on Monday morning.
In the apology, SZ editor-in-chief Wolfgang Krach admitted that the picture could be understood as objectifying the female body and as portraying sexual violence as something that has a connection to skin colour.
“We regret the fact that these illustrations could have hurt the feelings of our readers and apologize for that,” Krach wrote.
Conservative magazine Focus also came in for considerable criticism for its decision to run a picture of a naked white woman with black hand marks all over her body, as its front cover.
“Black handprints on a naked white woman,” Anja Rüzel, a journalist by rival magazine Spiegel wrote. “Focus is such rubbish that you can't parody it.”
Timm Klotzeck from SZ asked “A white woman being touched by black men - does Focus have it all together?”
Other journalists called on people not to buy the new edition of the magazine, with one prominent editor describing it as “disgustingly racist and sexist.”
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The magazine defended itself saying it wanted “to symbolically present what happened in Cologne.”
“Therefore we're showing as representative for the many female victims a woman who has been made a sex object and been degraded - but who is determined to fight back.”
The magazine's editor-in-chief Ulrich Reitz followed up this defence by saying that anyone you called it racist or sexist was “afraid of the truth.”