Belgian foreign minister criticised after 'blacking up' for charity rally

The Belgian foreign minister has been criticised for "blacking up" during a charity rally in Brussels.

Didier Reynders joined Les Noirauds (the Blacks), an organisation founded in 1876 which raises money for children's charities, for a march last Saturday.

He was pictured with a blackened face and wearing a white top hat, a ruff, bright green trousers and stockings.

Reynders - who on his website stresses the importance of Central Africa in Belgium's foreign policy - posted pictures of himself in the controversial outfit on Twitter and on his blog.

While Reynders received little criticism from political parties in Belgium, human rights campaigners condemned the foreign minister's actions.

Wouter Van Bellingen, the director of Minority Forum, said his participation in the rally was "deplorable", adding that Belgium lacked a national anti-racism

Peter Bouckaert, from Human Rights Watch, tweeted: "Belgium FM @Dreynders I have question: will u wear #blackface outfit 2 next meeting with African leaders? Shame on you!".

Nigerian-born author Chika Unigwe said: "In other civilised countries his political career wouldn't survive this, but in Belgium he just continues."