Charlie Hebdo is known for its defiance satire that has often toed the line. In fact, their bold stands through their cartoons is what they are famous (or infamous) for.
And it has done it again. With their latest cartoon, the French publication is sure to get embroiled in more controversy. The cartoon depicts Aylan Kurdi, the Syrian toddler who was found dead on a Turkish beach, committing a sex assault in Germany as an adult suggesting that if the refugee had survived, he would have become a sexual offender.
This came in the backdrop of the organised sexual assault in Cologne, Germany on New Year's Eve by a gang of migrants. New Year revelers, especially women, were targeted by rowdies and hooligans — incidents of sexual abuse and harassment and some violence was reported. The incident, which involved potential refugees and asylum seekers and since Germany led the welcome to the influx of refugees from Syria, has stoked a backlash in the country.
Here is the cartoon in question, shared multiple times on Twitter:
Hebdo - 'What would little Aylan have grown up to be? Ass groper in Germany'. Don't be apalled you just don't get it pic.twitter.com/LIYJEYjydy
— Nesrine Malik (@NesrineMalik) January 13, 2016
The image was drawn by Laurent Sourisseau, also known as "Riss," a long-time contributor to the newspaper and its current publishing director. Sourisseau is one of the people who were present when the publication's office was attacked by Islamist extremists in January. That attack left 12 people dead and Sourisseau was shot in the shoulder, reported The Washington Post.
Unsurprisingly, Charlie Hebdo was on the receiving end of severe backlash on social media for being 'racist'.
— Sunny Hundal (@sunny_hundal) January 13, 2016
I can't remember the last act of political speech that made me as viscerally enraged as that Charlie Hebdo cartoon. I don't have words.
— Michael Caley (@MC_of_A) January 13, 2016
So – *is* anyone (who has some authority) defending that Charlie Hebdo cartoon as not just massively racist? Wd love to know, for real
— Oliver Burkeman (@oliverburkeman) January 13, 2016
To #CharlieHebdo Aylan could have become a peacemaker, his family was escaping violence. Respect his too short life and his grieving family.
— MarionSinclairSimpso (@sagewords) January 13, 2016
— Lutz (@lutzinvancouver) January 14, 2016
— Chloe (@ThisIsChlo) January 13, 2016
I wanna give Charlie Hebdo the benefit of the doubt, but I just can't see the satire in the Aylan Kurdi cartoon.
— Richard Sherriff (@RichSherriff) January 14, 2016
This isn't the first time that Charlie Hebdo has used a now-iconic image of the drowned Alan for satire. In September, the magazine published a controversial cartoon depicting Aylan Kurdi's lifeless body. The first cartoon shows a clown — that vaguely represents Ronald McDonald, the eponymous mascot of the McDonalds franchise — and what appears to be the toddler with a sign: "Welcome immigrants, so close to his goal. Promotion: Two children for the price of one." The second cartoon shows a man, apparently Jesus, walking on water and a partially drowning child which says: "Proof that Christians walk on water." "Muslim children drown." In the background a McDonald's-style Happy Meal Board states, "Two children's menus for the price of one."
However, there's another (not too popular) way to look at it. Charlie Hebdo might be trying to make a point about the blame game that has the Cologne incidents have sparked with protesters blaming migrants in their country and leaders for allowing them. It is possible that the magaizne was trying to show the attitude of blame-game which follows after such incidents. However, blaming all migrants for the actions of a few is hardly logical.
As an earlier Firstpost article pointed out, not all refugees shouldn't be tarred with the same brush. And if this was the point that Charlie Hebdo's cartoon hoped to make, it seems to have been lost in translation.