French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo published a number of cartoons in its latest issue that depict the drowning of a Syrian refugee child, raising the ire of newspaper commentators and social media users around the world.
A photo taken earlier this month of a lifeless three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, washed ashore a Turkish beach, shocked the world and drew attention to the European migrant crisis. Aylan’s five-year-old brother Galip and his mother also died when the boat the family was traveling in capsized while trying to reach the Greek island of Kos. The father of the family originally from the Syrian-Kurdish town of Kobani –which was under attack by the Islamic State earlier this year — survived the accident.
One cartoon published by Charlie Hebdo shows a drawing of Kurdi face down on the beach with the words “so close to his goal…” written above him. A McDonald’s-like sign that reads “Promotion! Two children’s menus for the price of one” is also seen in the foreground.
Disgusting images published recently by Charlie Hebdo mocking the death of the young Syrian Refugee Aylan Kurdi pic.twitter.com/nh5FTaVNdJ
— Khalid Latif (@KLatif) September 14, 2015
#CharlieHebdo This is what world leaders marched in France for? pic.twitter.com/JlbKFf2jII
— Abu Typo (@WahidAtTalib) September 14, 2015
Ladies and gentleman, Charlie Hebdo. That’s why i was not and will never be Charlie. How can you mock that poor kid?? pic.twitter.com/q56oNrZgnY
— Zariyab Mhd (@iZariyab) September 13, 2015
A second cartoon entitled “Proof that Europe is Christian” depicts a Jesus-like character smiling smugly while appearing to walk on water next to an upturned child in the water, presumably Kurdi.
“Christians walk on water, Muslim children sink,” the cartoon says.
Both cartoons are part of the magazine’s September 9, 2015 issue.
The drawings were sharply criticized by many who say they are racist, disrespectful and xenophobic. The critics also blasted those who used the #JeSuisCharlie tag on social media to express solidarity with the magazine after 12 of its staff members were brutally murdered by French jihadists in the first of a series of terror attacks that shook Paris this January. A kosher supermarket was also targeted as part of the coordinated attack, killing four Jewish men.
Others maintained that the cartoons actually mock the European response to the refugee crisis, and not the drowned child.
Idiots bashing Charlie Hebdo for their latest cartoons over refugee crisis are just that: Idiots. If you don’t know French humor, SHUT UP.
— GodHatesFAQs (F.J.) (@MrPolyatheist) September 14, 2015
Extraordinary that people can read these cartoons and conclude that Aylan is the butt of the joke. Truly. http://t.co/vxjU658qBN
— Michael Weiss (@michaeldweiss) September 14, 2015
Charlie Hebdo has a long history of publishing controversial, sometimes offensive cartoons, most notably of the Prophet Muhammad, which have routinely angered many in the Muslim world.
The magazine’s offices were firebombed in 2011 as a result of the cartoons which have raised heated discussions on the limits of freedom of speech.
In April, three months after the deadly terror attack, Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Luz announced that he would stop drawing the Muslim prophet.