US & Canada

Pepe the Frog 'is killed off to avoid being a hate symbol'

Pepe the Frog was created by artist Matt Furie and has since become a hugely popular meme
Image caption Pepe the Frog was created by artist Matt Furie and has since become a hugely popular meme

Online cartoon character Pepe the Frog appears to have been killed off by its creator in a bid to stop his image being hijacked by far-right groups.

Pepe's creator Matt Furie over the weekend depicted the frog in a coffin, mourned by other members of his Boy's Club cartoon strip.

Furie recently complained that "a chilled frog" had become a hate symbol.

Pepe has recently been depicted as Adolf Hitler and as a member of the US white supremacist Ku Klux Klan group.

The alt-right group, a disparate group of right-wingers, has repeatedly shared Pepe re-workings on social media.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Over the last 10 years a battle has raged over what Pepe's image stands for

The frog made its debut in 2005.

Furie lamented in a recent article for Time magazine that it was a nightmare that his "blissfully stoned... peaceful frog-dude" in Boy's Club - who enjoyed "a simple life of snacks, soda and pulling his pants all the way down to go pee" - was now being used as a symbol of hate by racists and anti-Semites.

Recent efforts by Furie and Boy's Club fans to reclaim Pepe were overshadowed by the the alt-right's movement's transformation of the character during the US elections last year when it claimed Donald Trump as its presidential candidate of choice.

The movement has been described as an alternative to mainstream conservatism, but its proponents have repeatedly piled abuse at Jewish Americans and portrayed white people as oppressed.

Mr Trump at one point re-tweeted a caricature depicting him as Pepe in October 2015, with the caption "You Can't Stump the Trump".

'Racists and haters'

In September Pepe was added to the Anti-Defamation League's database of hate symbols alongside other logos including the Swastika and the "Blood Drop Cross" of the Ku Klux Klan.

The anti-bigotry group said "racists and haters" had taken a popular internet meme and "twisted it".

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Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Donald Trump re-tweeted a Pepe-style cartoon of himself

The frog also made headlines in mid-September when Hillary Clinton said most of Mr Trump's supporters belonged in a "basket of deplorables".

Mr Trump's son Donald Trump Jr then shared an altered version of the movie poster for "The Expendables", which showed Pepe with his father and other conservatives, labelled "The Deplorables."

Image copyright Instagram
Image caption Donald Trump Jr shared an altered version of the movie poster for "The Expendables", which showed Pepe the frog with his father's hair

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