September 7, 2018 / 4:05 PM / in 9 months

Belgian TV weather presenter describes year of racist abuse

BRUSSELS, Sept 7 (Reuters) - A Belgian TV weather presenter who posted a tearful video online describing a year of racist abuse said on Friday she had been overwhelmed by the support she received at home and abroad.

Cécile Djunga from public broadcaster RTBF attracted 1.7 million views and thousands of supportive posts after she appeared on Facebook on Wednesday.

In the video, Djunga described how one woman called up the broadcaster and complained that she was “too black and all people could see were my clothes”.

She said she had been the target of racist comments since she started the job about a year ago, and described other confrontations in an emotional address, laughing one minute, wiping tears from her eyes the next.

“I decided I was going to say something because there are too many people who think racism doesn’t exist in Belgium. That’s not the case,” Djunga said. Supportive messages appeared with the part-French hashtag #stopracisme.

Djunga returned to Facebook on Friday to thank people for their support which “exceeds anything I could have imagined ... This cri de coeur resonates beyond Belgium’s borders.”

Belgium’s anti-racism watchdog, Unia, said on Thursday it had started an investigation to assess whether someone could be prosecuted.

Unia director, Patrick Charlier, told RTBF that this could be for the crimes of inciting hatred or of sending hateful messages.

“In this case, it is an act of hate, it is harassment,” he said.

The head of RTBF, Jean-Paul Philippot, said he was appalled and that racism was a crime.

“As for RTBF, it will drive us to continue our policy of showing the diversity of our society in all its aspects and all its facets,” he said. (Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis Editing by Philip Blenkinsop and Andrew Heavens)

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