Charlie Hebdo under fire for cartoons of drowned Syrian kid

French satirical magazine, victim of horrific jihadist attack in January, takes on European migrant crisis

New Charlie Hebdo cartoons depicting drowned Syrian child Aylan Kurdi, published in the magazine's issue of September 9, 2015. (Charlie Hebdo)
New Charlie Hebdo cartoons depicting drowned Syrian child Aylan Kurdi, published in the magazine's issue of September 9, 2015. (Charlie Hebdo)

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.

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.

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.

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