The magazine, known for its strong stance on free speech, drew international ire by publishing controversial cartoons of the drowned Syrian toddler whose lifeless body revealed the tragic realities refugees endure in their desperate escape to safety.
Aylan Kurdi, 3, became the symbol of migrant crisis when his body washed ashore in southwestern Turkish city of Bodrum, breaking millions of hearts across the Internet. While many newspapers and magazines paid tribute to the child, Charlie Hebdo went a different route.
Under a title “Si près du but…” which translates “So close to his goal,” the magazine published a cartoon of the child’s dead body with a McDonald’s publicity billboard in the background that reads, “Two menus of children for the price of one.”
The other controversial cartoon – which seems Islamophobic more than anything else – reads “The Proof that Europe is Christian” and shows a man, supposedly Jesus, standing on the water saying “Christians walk on water” while the toddler drowns with the caption “Muslim kids sink.”
It’s unclear why the magazine thought this would be funny – perhaps the real satire got lost in translation.
Charlie Hebdo made headlines earlier this year after gunmen – upset at the magazine’s mocking of the Prophet Mohammed – burst into their headquarters in Paris and murdered 12 people.
The tragic attack saw an outpouring of support for the magazine around the world, making it a symbol for freedom of speech, and the next edition sold more than 1 million copies.
Although some deemed the latest illustrations as ironic, claiming that the cartoons point out the attitude with which the world views loss of the children refugee’s lives while ridiculing the arguments of those who say “Europe is Christian,” the fact remains that the cartoons are indeed disrespectful on humanitarian grounds.
Even if the magazine intended to mock the rest of the world for refugee crisis, the attempt was extremely distasteful and can be interpreted as an act of Islamophobia, upsetting millions of people around the world.
The illustrations have also received harsh criticism on social media:
Charlie Hebdo managed to mock Aylan Kurdi, the boy who drowned, in the name of satire. They stand for freedom of speech or from humanity?— Fatah (@fatah_pak) September 14, 2015
Charlie Hebdo have printed two cartoons mocking Aylan Kurdi, further evidence that they use satire not to mock power, but the powerless.— samayya (@mayyasa1) September 14, 2015
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