Charlie Hebdo’s critics still don’t understand French satire

One year on from the terrorist attack, Charlie Hebdo remains misunderstood

Charlie Hebdo big

 

How can the drawing of an old, bearded man wearing a cloak stained with blood and carrying a Kalashnikov cause worldwide waves of outrage?

On Wednesday, Charlie Hebdo released its latest edition, marking the one-year anniversary of the attacks on the French satirical magazine. The cartoon on its cover was accompanied by the text: ‘One year on, the assassin is still out there.’ Judging by the reactions it has provoked so far, one year on, Charlie Hebdo is still misunderstood.

Charlie Hebdo is hated and condemned by many, but few of its loudest critics actually understand its cartoons. Debates that followed the Islamist attack that killed 12 people including most of the magazine’s journalists were revived for its one-year anniversary, suggesting many have not even read a single edition of the magazine in its entirety.

The most common misconception about Charlie Hebdo is that it attacks religious individuals. In fact, Charlie Hebdo is a political satire magazine. It does not attack any religion as a personal faith but ridicules every politicised and institutionalised form of it – be it the Vatican or the more extreme case of the Islamic State. Islam is not in the crosshairs; the ideology that exploits it, Islamism, is.

Charlie Hebdo

The latest example of this misinterpretation is the Vatican newspaper’s response to Charlie Hebdo’s latest cover, featuring the aforementioned old man; a gun-wielding terrorist with the religious symbol of the ‘all-seeing Eye of God’ hovering above his head.

The newspaper criticised Charlie Hebdo’s mockery of religion and accused the magazine of disrespecting believers’ faith in God. Last year, a few days after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, Pope Francis told journalists on his Asia tour: ‘To kill in the name of God is an absurdity.’ Charlie Hebdo agrees – in fact, this is precisely what the cartoonists have been trying to show in their latest absurdist cartoon of God as a terrorist.

Another example of indignant reactions, which have revealed an inaccurate and simplistic understanding of French satire, was the public outcry that followed the release of the Aylan Kurdi cartoon in September. Charlie Hebdo was accused of mocking the death of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, a Kurdish Syrian who’s drowning became a symbol of the refugee crisis.

The drawing, which showed the little boy lying face down in the sand next to a McDonalds sign, was meant to depict the absurdity behind the tragedy: merciless Europeans living in peace, luxury and obesity while refugees silently die on their way to what they see as paradise.

Charlie Hebdo refugees

France has a long tradition of absurdist satire that dates back to before the French Revolution and uses deliberately provocative and uncensored images to get across its message. The single most defining characteristic of a satirical cartoon is precisely its visual exaggeration of human features and flaws. Without the blunt, uncut and crass nature of the drawings, they would not qualify as a caricature.

Furthermore, many people have confused absurdism with racism and unjustly labelled Charlie Hebdo as racist. One brief look at its website shows part of the magazine’s mission is to defend ‘a society free of racism’.

There is a profound difference between racist or anti-religious hate-speech and satirical cartoons. While the former attacks and incites hatred against ethnic, cultural and religious minorities, the latter mocks powerful elites which are henpecking societies and cultures, as well as the abstract concepts to which they adhere.

Power can come in many forms: political, commercial and religious. Charlie Hebdo’s favourite targets therefore reach from right-wing politicians and manifestations of capitalist doctrines to authorities of the two most popular and hence powerful religions on the planet: Christianity and Islam.

Literally every word that ends in ‘-phobic’ has been used to describe Charlie Hebdo. Yes, Charlie Hebdo might be many things – indecent, blasphemous and politically incorrect. But some things it is definitely not, namely, xenophobic, homophobic and Islamophobic.

Indeed, it has demonstrated the courage to stand up for the weakest and least privileged members of society by mocking the most powerful and thereby haling them to act.

We should commemorate these courageous cartoonists by daring to keep laughing and making people laugh, at everyone and everything. We should continue to draw, to write and to speak our minds.

And most importantly, we should never stop defending those who risk their lives fighting for these rights such as Salman Rushdie, Raif Badawi and Charlie Hebdo cartoonists. If you feel offended, fight back – but please do so with words, not with Kalashnikovs – and don’t insist that others share your offence.

Julia Ebner is a research assistant at Quilliam focussing on EU counter-extremism efforts. Follow her on Twitter

50 Responses to “Charlie Hebdo’s critics still don’t understand French satire”

  1. Brad JJ

    ”The newspaper criticised Charlie Hebdo’s mockery of religion and accused the magazine of disrespecting believers’ faith in God. ”

    I cannot see anything wrong with disrespecting the beliefs of another person or group. I know that many people who are attached to a faith consider themselves superior to those outside their sect or faith. Fuck all of them thinking I am inferior to them IN ANY WAY because of their bullshit religions.

  2. David Lindsay

    Nothing about Charlie Hebdo entitles it to anything approaching an award from PEN. Christopher Booker, the Founding Editor of Private Eye, had the measure both of the reaction to the Charlie Hebdo attack, and of the spiteful, juvenile publication itself.

    Ni Charlie Ni Charia” was the excellent headline in an edition of Rivarol last January. Rivarol propagates a dangerous perversion of the Catholic Faith into the ideology of the French Far Right. It does so in achingly sophisticated fashion. I am given to understand that the technical term is “French”.

    What if Islamists had attacked Rivarol rather than Charlie Hebdo? Would the world’s torturers, media-repressers, heckler-arresters (that’s you, David Cameron) and all the rest of them have wended their way to Paris in order to march in that most preposterous of things, a government-organised demonstration led by the very Head of State?

    The burial of the fallen Police Officers with the Legion d’honneur was obviously fitting. But why not also of the cartoonists? After all, their supposedly satirical organ is now being kept going at public expense, effectively nationalised, initially in order to make possible an enormously expanded print run for the most boringly predictable front page imaginable.

    At least in France, satire itself is now dead.

  3. Papa Tango

    You applaud Rivarol, pound on Charlie and refuse to stand for freedom of expression…Let me guess, you’re big fan of the regressive left, GG, Chomsky, TyT? Any which way you’de cut it, you are the enemy, a plague, a tumor on the anus of liberté!

  4. David Lindsay

    You applaud Rivarol

    I don’t. But I do wonder what the reaction would have been if it had been the target. It is extremely hostile to Islam and to Muslims.

  5. Papa Tango

    You’re completely missing the point, you have “to be Charlie”,
    not because you agree with the satirists, they were leftists and anarchists,
    but that’s neither here nor there, those satirists could have been far right
    activists, outright islamophobes, and it still would have been a clear case of
    Islamists wanting to impose the sharia law on our freedom of speech! Who cares if Charlie is puerile and not always as funny as they shoot for?! They are
    antitheists, fighting, with drawings and words, against the madness of men,
    your personal tastes are not the issue, it is a matter of principle! It’s
    obvious to me, how come it isn’t to you? Could it be that you drank the New
    Yorker Kool-Aid? I strongly
    suspect so.

  6. areopagius

    I’m still not clear as to what powerful elite was attacked here in support of which downtrodden mass. I agree entirely with Will Self:

    “while Charb’s cartoon may’ve provoked a wry smile from Charlie Hebdo’s readers, it’s not clear to me that these people are the “afflicted” who, in HL Mencken’s definition, require “comforting” – unless their “affliction” is the very fact of a substantial Muslim population in France, and their “comfort” consists in inking-in all these fellow citizens with a terroristic brush. “.

  7. Shawn

    Then you would be part of the problem.

  8. Rasta Man

    You could argue Islam is hostile to Charlie hebdo, because it is thin skinned, can’t face any critique even satirical…

  9. Robert Eckert

    “I do wonder what the reaction would have been if it had been the target” We would have been horrified that people were murdered for what they were saying, no matter what it was.

  10. David Lindsay

    But would you, though?

  11. Thanks Tank

    I think they do not want to understand it because that turns the blame on to the gunmen and that was in short supply in many progressive minds last year.

  12. Ross O'Neil

    Will Self is completely and utterly wrong here. No one attacked individual human rights. These are attacks on ideas. If you can’t separate human dignity from ideas then you are part of the problem.

    It’s astounding to me that there is any debate here at all. How can one not see that the ideology of theocracy and religion being used for power, control and coercion is a corrupt flaw of humanity. That is the very thing that Hebdo satired. Every single attack was idea based and not an attack on human dignity in anyway shape or form.

    Bigots are intolerant of human dignity and human rights. Never have I seen a Charlie cartoon attack a human right or be bigoted against a individual human, only the collective ideology masses of people choose to believe and enrich powerful institutions to spread those ideas.

    Sam Harris said it best something like, ‘People were killed for drawing cartoons. End of Moral Analysis’.

    If you don’t want to read Charlie don’t and if you are going to criticize the ideas it puts forth you seriously owe it to the dead, yourself and the future humans reading your opinion to at least be intellectually honest enough to understand the ideology it represents.

  13. Danny

    If you want to see the “afflicted” th n look at Islamic countries. The larger the muslim population the larger the affliction of the non muslims.

  14. Robert Eckert

    Of course I would, before I even knew who they were. I had no idea who Charlie Hebdo was when I had that reaction. I still don’t know anything about who Jyllands Post is.

  15. Ronovitch

    Presume little Miss Clever Clogs would have ‘defended’ Der Sturmer’s ‘absurdist’ depictions of German Jews before they were murdered in the Holocaust. And I presume that next time she’s out with her loved ones, and a crass bigot comes up to her and starts insulting them all (and any deceased relatives), she’ll play along with a big ‘je suis Charlie’ smile. Yeah right…….Go and ask the late three-year-old Alan Kurdi’s father what he thinks of Charlie Hebdo. Just go and ask him….

  16. chizwoz

    Those comparisons are utterly absurd. She did clearly explain that Charlie Hebdo didn’t attack actual people but only attacked ideology.
    And also, I like how without even realizing it, you use an analogy to a situation where someone “comes up to her and starts insulting them all”. You do realize that people who are offended by a magazine are entirely free to NOT BUY IT, right? If they don’t buy it. They literally never have to see the cartoons. People have repeated this so many times that you’ve kind of convinced yourself that once someone draws a cartoon it is immediately forced into view of every muslim in the world. It’s not. 90% of muslims only heard about it because of the extremists.

  17. chizwoz

    The powerful elite that was attacked was Islamism, possibly the single most powerful ideology on earth today. The downtrodden mass are cartoonists, satirists and comedians who risk death everywhere in the world if they dare to mock anything about the religion of Islam.

  18. areopagius

    And I’m sure Islamists are very cross indeed whenever some cartoonist in France does their job for them by validating their depiction of ‘the West’.

  19. chizwoz

    Which depiction of the west is that?

  20. areopagius

    One that hates Muslims and one that is incompatible with Islam.

  21. chizwoz

    Well then it also appears to be one that hates Christianity and Judaism. Cos we mock them all the time. Then we have plays like “The Book of Mormon” and documentaries like “Going Clear” that are part of mainstream media and culture.
    Islam is simply asking to be the 1 belief system that gets special treatment. The answer is never going to be yes.

  22. areopagius

    So it is then an attack on the belief system rather than the abuse of that belief system in the creation of a powerful elite. If you are really out to attack Islamism, wouldn’t it be better to target Islamism and Islamists rather than carry out a non-targeted attack on all Muslims.

  23. chizwoz

    When on earth did Charlie Hebdo carry out a non-targeted attack on all muslims?

  24. Colm McGinn

    You are so RIGHT!!

    You see in 19**, why did people get so uptight and offended by those magazines in Germany? I mean, they can just leave them on the shelf. Surely in the year 2016 we are all mature enough not to be inflamed by racist ranting? (oh wait, Hungary, Poland, Ukraine, Georgia, Russia…. oh dear)

  25. Colm McGinn

    I think you are more of the Kool-Aid drinker, Mr pseudonym. We don’t ‘have to be Charlie Hebdo’. I don’t like their publication, don’t like their poisonous ideas, don’t like their sneering attack on a marginalised ‘other’, and do not care in the slightest about their deaths. Fuck ’em. It’s a tough world.

    In this alternate world you inhabit, of ‘a regressive left’, and all the rest, you willy-nilly support the status quo. You support the horrible President Hollande and his attacks on Arab peoples (as part of a NATO alliance). Would you hazard a guess as to how many have died (nearly all civilian) in support of their objectives?

  26. chizwoz

    If the magazines in Germany purely poked fun at Jewish BELIEFS rather than jewish people and also did the same about all other religions, then they would be entirely analogous. I assume neither of those specifications is true though.

  27. Papa Tango

    So the core of your argument is: I know you are but what am I?! That’s weak, utterly pathetic, like all you regressive left buddies! Concerning Charlie, you don’t speak French, you know zilch about their very long satire tradition, kwow nothing about French humor, probably have never read Charlie Hebdo, apparently ignore the fact that they are leftists, militant atheists and antiracists and yet you have the gall to talk shit about those great warriors of freedom of speech…What a great man you are, impressive!

  28. Fowlthing

    The drawing, which showed the little boy lying face down in the sand next to a McDonalds sign, was meant to depict the absurdity behind the tragedy: merciless Europeans living in peace, luxury and obesity while refugees silently die on their way to what they see as paradise.

    I guess paradise may be interpreted by someone escaping being shot or bombed as delightful even while living with McDonalds in comparison.

  29. Colm McGinn

    Mr pseudonynm, you don’t know anything on my knowledge of the French language. You also (obviously) know little on the history of the past few centuries . You also know liitle to zero on the world analyses you have previously dismissed. You being ‘impressed’ is a zero for me.

  30. Papa Tango

    Come off it you phony! Anyone can tell that you don’t speak French, because a French speaker that actually read Charlie and has a modicum of knowledge about France would never call Charlie racist or islamophobe (except if they’re Muslims, of course). I’m still waiting for a sound argument on your part, but I’m not holding my breath…

  31. Paul Harrison

    Hebdo published a cartoon portraying Alan Kurdi as growing up to be a sex offender – that is ‘poking fun’ at refugees – not their beliefs, not their religion, but specifically the people, and is using a dead child in order to portray that message – and you are defending this?
    Ebner states that Hebdo attacks only the ‘politicised and institutionalised form’ or religion and race. Remind me how portraying a dead three year old child as a sex offender does that? If absolutely nothing else its plain lazy. Cheap bigoted insults paraded for column inches in the worlds press. Its the type of ‘satire’ a bigoted 14 year old would come up with.

    And claims of ‘they poke fun at all religions’ is irrelevant – its tantamount to saying that usage of ‘honky’ and ‘ni**er’ are equivalent, that as words they carry the same impact. Satire is intended to be the counterweight to power – reinforcing stereotypes about refugees to a bunch of white middle class Parisians can hardly be considered this.

  32. chizwoz

    I don’t about the example you give, so you’ll have to point me to the info on that.
    That sounds like just 1 person though? Not really comparable to the german stuff that mocked the jews.

  33. Julia Ebner

    @disqus_Fe8Ne89RuV:disqus The newest Charlie Hebdo cartoon depicting Aylan Kurdi as a groper is not mocking the child, but PEGIDA and its absurd ideas about immigrants!

    @Ronovitch:disqus Comparing Charlie Hebdo to “Der Stürmer” is absolutely ridiculous. If you read Charlie Hebdo’s mission statement, you will see that it is not exactly an anti-Muslim version of “Mein Kampf”. Their goal is by no means to spread anti-Muslim hatred, but to make people laugh. Mostly, to make them laugh about the far right, especially Le Pen, who is by far Charlie Hebdo’s most frequent target. Sometimes even to laugh about themselves. Did you see any of the cartoons in which they mocked themselves and their own deaths? Why do you think they did that? Not because they find it funny that their friends and colleagues had to die, but because they want to be able to laugh about the absurdity of their deaths, just like they want to laugh about the absurdity of Le Pen’s, Trump’s or PEGIDA’s racist ideas about immigrants.

    Wouldn’t it be sad to live in a world where you cannot mock racism without being called a racist yourself, where you cannot mock Islamophobia without being called Islamophobic youself? The headlines are sombre enough every day, let’s at least laugh at them to make them more bearable.

    Please start reading the entire magazine, stop cherry picking and listen to some of the cartoonists’ interviews, maybe that will change your simplistic reading of these drawings.

  34. Paul Harrison

    The newest cartoon makes no mention of PEGIDA – the majority of people have taken that cartoon at face value – a cartoon that portrays a dead muslim child as a future sex pest. This is the one thing that bothers me about Charlie Hebdo – it so often relies on the ‘Emperors new clothes’ approach to satire – its excuse for so many of its denigrating images has been ‘you don’t understand it, you don’t see the satire in it… its ironic/subversive/sarcastic etc.’ – if a publication that has frequently printed images attacking Islam posts an anti islamic cartoon that makes not a single reference to a given organisation then why on earth would you think it relates to that? That seems more like making excuses than providing explanations.

  35. chizwoz

    Hmmm yeah well that’s not a great cartoon. It’s not clear what point it’s supposed to be making. This doesn’t really have that much to do with the previous stuff that caused the controversy though.
    Given that their previous staff were all slaughtered, maybe their replacements are just shit at satire.

  36. Julia Ebner

    I see what you mean now – I agree with Freedland’s article in The Guardian and I actually think our opinions only differ in that I consider Charlie Hebdo’s motivations and intentions to draw these cartoons to be more important than their consequences, because the interpretation and exploitation of satire after its release is not in their sphere of influence! What upsets me is that it is not just purposefully misinterpreted and exploited by the far right, but that not enough people stand up to correct these obvious misinterpretations and instead blame Charlie Hebdo. Anyone who knows about Charlie Hebdo’s history and personal views should at least recognize that while the cartoons might have been clumsy and missed their targets, their intentions were never to spark racist or anti-Muslim resentments.

  37. Paul Harrison

    Hebdo has frequently published caricatures that are intended to insult and offend Muslims, so how can you be so adamant as to what their intentions are? If they are publishing cartons that they know will increase racial tensions then they are part of the problem.

  38. Paul Harrison

    Pretty sure incompetence is not an excuse for racial hatred.

  39. chizwoz

    It’s not racial, it’s cultural. And it’s not hatred, its mockery.

  40. Paul Harrison

    Portraying an arab child as a pig/monkey sex offender is not racial?
    And the point I’m trying to make is that if they are inciting racial hatred then their intention is irrelevant – when you become part of the very problem that you claim they are trying to address then something has gone very badly wrong.
    Do you honestly think Muslims or refugees will view that cartoon and think ‘wow, those Hebdo guys are really sticking up for us by implying a dead refugee child will become a sex offender’? Do you think the right wing viewed that cartoon and thought ‘ what an incredibly clever way to highlight the current plight of the refugees and the way the right portrays them, they really showed us!’? Hebdo knows its cartoons are deeply offensive to many Muslims – moderate and extreme – yet it continues to publish them. The point of satire is to attack the powerful, not the powerless – and no amount of excuses like ‘oh you don’t understand their position’ (exactly how much understanding is there to do when its a dead child portrayed as a sex offender?) or ‘its not a great cartoon’ will change that.

  41. chizwoz

    No it’s not racial. Race has no causal influence on behaviour. It’s culture that leads to mass sexual assault, not race. If there was hypothetically a small subsection of Saudi Arabia that was white, but was part of the same culture, their position would likely be the same (because it’s the culture not the race).
    You’re confusing correlation with causation.

    I think 90% of muslims are used to a culture where insulting their religion is completely unacceptable so they respond to pretty much anything like this with mindless outrage (e.g no-one had actually read the Satanic verses before the protests began. It wasn’t anything Rushie had written they objected to, it was simply the fact he’d written it). So that’s kinda a pointless question at the moment. What I do know is that a future where we teach immigrants that you have no right not to be offended in a free society is infinitely better than a future where we shut down absolutely everything that anyone finds offensive (which is where this logic leads. It never just stays with 1 instance. People who want political power seize upon it and spread it like wildfire.)

  42. Paul Harrison

    The cartoon portrayed a dead three year old as a sex offender. How does religion affect the behaviour of a dead three year old? And where did I say that race has an affect on behaviour? I said the cartoon was racist because it used racial stereotypes – the pig/monkey reference for instance.

    The portrayal of Mohammed is insulting – its like drawing a picture portraying Martin Luther King as a monkey and then claiming that black people are being over sensitive – i’ll repeat – the point of satire is to attack the powerful not denegrate the powerless. Portraying a three year old as a future sex offender does not attack the powerful – what part of that aren’t you getting. But hey, I enjoyed your massively sweeping stereotype that 90% of Muslims as mindlessly aggressive to any criticism.

    I’m sure the immigrants will greatly appreciate you telling them what they are and are not allowed to be offended by from your position of privilege. Perhaps you could tell women that slapping them on the butt and calling them sweet cheeks is merely ironic banter. I personally hadn’t realised we had got to a point where speech is free but expressing outrage is not? When did the rules on that change exactly, I must have missed the memo.

    And please don’t pull the ‘this is where this logic ends’ nonsense. That’s like when people claim that allowing gay marriage will end up with the legalisation of bestiality. Its frankly moronic.

  43. Colm McGinn

    That would be a great defence in law, “Oh I meant something quite different!”

    Of course, that’s the bullshit that exceptionalists use all the time; probably seems more moral to some to ‘defend Western civilisational values’, or ‘we had to destroy the village to save it’

  44. chizwoz

    The cartoon didn’t use racial stereotypes. It used cultural stereotypes. I’ve got friends of arabic and middle eastern origin. Except none of them are religious and they’re for all intents and purposes westerners. No-one thinks their race might nonetheless cause them to start sexually assaulting women (whereas if it really was racial, as you suggest, we WOULD be worried about that) It’s not the race, it’s the culture.
    I don’t care if the portrayal of Mohammed is insulting. In a free society, you don’t get to never be insulted. I’m insulted by most of what it says in the old testament and the quran. If they think they can try and stop people drawing cartoons, well guess what they’d better be ready to give up their hideous holy books too. You don’t get one without the other.
    Your comment about slapping women on the butt shows how you’ve completely failed to understand the principle of free speech. The whole point is that if I say something that people don’t like, they’re entirely free to avoid me and never listen to me again. They literally never need be upset by it again. Physically assaulting someone doesn’t share that property. They have no way of avoiding it so your right to do it really IS infringing on their right to safety.
    Expressing outrage is fine. You might have just remembered a tiny detail. These people expressed it with guns.

  45. Paul Harrison

    You’ve just managed to contradict yourself there – you have stated you have friends who are arabic and are for all intense and purposes western, yet defended are cartoon that implies all arabs grow up to be sex offenders.

    “No-one thinks their race might nonetheless cause them to start sexually assaulting women”

    yet that is exactly what the cartoon implies.

    “I don’t care if the portrayal of Mohammed is insulting”

    Of course you don’t – you aren’t Muslim – that’s like saying ‘I don’t care if black people find n*****r insulting’.

    ” In a free society, you don’t get to never be insulted.”

    True, but you do expect to not have your freedom impinged upon. Publications that promote the stereotype that certain groups grow up to be sex offenders are affecting the liberty of that group of people. You appear to be confusing freedom of speech and speech free from consequence.

    “If they think they can try and stop people drawing cartoons”

    Sorry, but when did they stop people publishing cartoons? Want they want to do is stop cartoons that are designed to be intentionally inflammatory and promote negative stereotypes which in turn affect innocent people. If they were regularly publishing cartoons portraying black people as monkeys would we be having this discussion?

    “The whole point is that if I say something that people don’t like,
    they’re entirely free to avoid me and never listen to me again.”

    Except in this instance they aren’t – that’s the point you are missing. Because they can avoid the publication – but they cannot avoid the hatred that cartoons such as the one in Hebdo feed. That’s the whole point – when freedom of speech affects the freedom of other people it is no longer free. If I stand in the middle of a crowded theatre and scream FIRE and people die in the ensuing stampede do i get to state ‘well, i was only exercising my right to free speech’? No, because my actions were reckless and impacted the lives of others. Implying that a dead child will grow to be a sex offender is reckless – it implies that all refugees are future sex offenders, which, whether you like it or not, impacts the lives of others. Freedom of speech is different to speech free from consequence.

    “They have no way of avoiding it so your right to do it really IS infringing on their right to safety.”

    Remind me again how you avoid a society that is being taught to hate and fear you?

    “The line is drawn where your freedom to express outrage starts infringing on other people’s rights.”

    Oh the Irony!!!!! So if expressing your outrage impacts others rights that’s where you draw the line – but expressing freedom of speech when it impacts others rights is completely fine!

    “Once you cross that line, you can expect a vicious pushback.”

    Irony overload! So you argument is – encouraging xenophobia, which negatively impacts many peoples lives, is totally acceptable, however if those people who are being impacted, if they become offended to the point of action that is totally unacceptable – but responding to that action with a ‘vicious pushback’ because it may impact your ability to continue to encourage xenophobia, that’s absolutely fine! Brilliant.

    “There was routinely violence as well”

    Do you want to discuss the violence against refugees that cartoons such as the one in Hebdo help feed? I don’t support violence in any form but please don’t patronise everyone by claiming it is one sided. Xenophobic publications feed hatred and violence, and whilst I’d never support violence to combat them it doesn’t change the fact that portraying a dead refugee child as a future sex offender drawn to resemble a mix between a pig and a monkey is xenophobic and intentionally inflammatory.

  46. chizwoz

    The cartoon doesn’t imply arabs. It implies muslims. You’re REALLY having trouble with the separating of variables on that. It’s seriously not that hard a distinction between race and culture or religion.

    The comparison with “nigger” is flawed. Racism is entirely different from anti-theism. As I pointed out, they might well be insulted by the depiction of mohammed, but I’m insulted by what’s taught in their holy book. You can’t draw that same analogy with a race because a race doesn’t contain beliefs and propositions like a religion does. Once again, you’re REALLY struggling with a basic separation of race and religion here. They’re entirely different but at some point in your thinking (I’m not sure at what point), you’re making them the same.

    No, cartoons do not affect their liberty in the slightest. If it wasn’t for the outrage in response to them, most people wouldn’t even know these cartoons existed.
    Once again, if these cartoons can affect THEIR liberty, then the preachings in the Quran can affect MY liberty as an atheist in exactly the same way.

    It’s utter nonsense that the cartoons feed hatred. Where is this similar hatred for all of the other things Charlie Hebdo mocked then? Where is the mass hatred for Mormons because of the “Book of Mormon” play?
    Christianity is constantly mocked in western media, usually by non-religious people. Where is this hatred for christians?
    It’s complete bullshit. It’s not the cartoons that feed hatred. It’s the response by muslims to the cartoons that feed hatred. Christians aren’t generally hated because they respond in a civlized manner.

  47. Paul Harrison

    It implies refugee – last time I checked refugee does not define a religion but does define a place – could you clarify what defines the body of the dead child as being muslim? Because I must have missed that.

    “The comparison with “nigger” is flawed. Racism is entirely different from anti-theism”
    yet its no different from xenophobia – which this is. But do please explain why racism is ‘completely’ different from anti-theism, I’m curious as to how hared and oppresion based on relihgion is OK but based on skin color isn’t.

    “As I pointed out, they might well be insulted by the depiction of
    mohammed, but I’m insulted by what’s taught in their holy book. ”
    Your comparison is flawed – there is no equivalence in that comparison. Belittling a minorities culture, portraying it and its followers as ignorant, as rapists, as inherently violent deeply impacts the social perception that the majority feel towards that group. This leads to hatred, to xenophobia, to religous intolerance. You not liking a book makes frankly, fuck all difference to anyone.

    “You can’t draw that same analogy with a race because a race doesn’t contain beliefs and propositions like a religion does.”
    Really ? Do prey tell what the beliefs of a religion of over a billion people are then – lets pick one that you are more familiar with. Christians – for or against homosexuals? What? You mean you cannot say because so many of them interpret their religion in different ways! You don’t say! You mean you cannot just stereotype them all together? Remind me again how racial stereotyping based on ignorance is different to religous stereotyping based on ignorance. Once again, just to remind you, the cartoon portrayed a refugee – there was no mention of religion.

    “No, cartoons do not affect their liberty in the slightest.”
    Muslims will be over the moon to know that the white person says that they are not impacted by islamophobia in the slightest. Perhaps you could inform the Jews that the cartoons in Der Sturmer had no impact on them, they will be most pleased to hear.

    ” If it wasn’t for the outrage in response to them, most people wouldn’t even know these cartoons existed.”
    Which is kind if the point – Hebdo made them offensive in order to gain attention. And they are well known so your hypothetical world where they aren’t is irrelevant. I may as well argue ‘if everyne could have a cuddle and get on we wouldn’t have this problem’ – its a scenario that doesn’t exist so as an argument its irrelevant.

    “Once again, if these cartoons can affect THEIR liberty, then the
    preachings in the Quran can affect MY liberty as an atheist in exactly
    the same way.”
    Struggling with the equivalency thing again aren’t we. When that book threatens your day to day life you can complain. When there are as many Islamic Extremists as racists in your country then feel free to be as outraged as you like. You also appaear to not understand the difference between what has been published and what should be published – the Quran was published quite a while ago, you can’t decide not to have it exist – you can decide not to create drawings of dead children as sex offenders.

    “It’s utter nonsense that the cartoons feed hatred.”
    Yeah – when has cartoons ever been used to feed hatred? Apart from all the times in history its been used to feed hatred of course!

    “Where is this similar hatred for all of the other things Charlie Hebdo mocked then?”
    First of all – equivalency, mocking Christians in France is not equivalent to mocking Muslims – Christians hold all the power Muslims don’t – I don’t see White Supremacists demanding Christians leave France. Once again the purpose of Satire is to mock the powerful not the powerless. I’m also pretty sure that if Hebdo portrayed Anne Frank as a future sex offender the outrage was be just as substantial. Oh sorry – my mistake, it took something nowhere near as offensive as that http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/4351672/French-cartoonist-Sine-on-trial-on-charges-of-anti-Semitism-over-Sarkozy-jibe.html – you were saying?

    “Where is the mass hatred for Mormons because of the “Book of Mormon” play?”
    I must have missed all of the Mormon hate crimes in the UK. Where there many? Could you point out when the French national Front were demanding the expulsion of all mormons? I must have missed that too. I didn’t realise that the Mormons were such a predominant target of the BNP and EDL. You really struggle with the equivalency thing don’t you/

    “Christianity is constantly mocked in western media, usually by non-religious people. Where is this hatred for christians?”
    You are talking about Christian nations. White people are frequently mocked on TV everyone has a good laugh when Black comedians talk about how White people are bad dancers right! So its totally the same when Bernard Manning used to do his routines right. Right?

    ” It’s not the cartoons that feed hatred.”
    Yep why would anyone garner a negative view of refugees from a media that portrays them all as future sex offenders – what a presposterous idea!

    “Christians aren’t generally hated because they respond in a civlized manner.”
    Of course they do – when someone belittles them it has absolutely zero impact – same as when someone takes the pee out of white folks. They hold a position of privilege and power – every UK Prime Minister has been Christian. Claiming equivalency between the treatment of Christians and Mulsims in Europe is beyond ridiculous.

  48. chizwoz

    What clarifies the dead child as a muslim is that in the countries these people come from, you’re generally indoctrinated from birth so you don’t have a choice in your religion. I actually don’t personally consider children to have a religion at all. I reject the concept entirely. But Charlie Hebdo are obviously trying to satirise public opinion, so it’s ok for them to just reflect the public delusion that children do have a religion I guess.

    Xenophobia isn’t 1 thing, it’s a range of things. Some xenophobia is entirely rational, some isn’t. I already explained how racism is different from anti-theism. First of all, race is an immutable part of your identity, religion isn’t. You can give it up whenever you want. You also probably wouldn’t have a religion if it weren’t for your childhood indoctrination. The second key difference being that religions contain beliefs and propositions, races don’t. Religions therefore have a causal influence in the world in a way that race doesn’t. It’s essential it has less rights and respect as a concept for that reason.

    Once again: No, cartoon depictions themselves don’t force the majority to think anything. People are not braindead simpletons who can be convinced of a worldview just from seeing cartoons. Otherwise it would have the same affect when they mocked christianity (after all christianity is a minority in quite a few european countries now). It’s the response TO the cartoons that creates animosity. If it was just a general kind of xenophobia, you have to explain why the same attitudes aren’t also felt towards other religions. Where are the anti-Sikh movements in the west? The anti-Hindu movements? They don’t exist.

    And me “not liking a book” makes fuck all difference? Are you serious? Do you have any clue how apostates and non-believers are treated in muslim communities? Have you not followed the series of murders in muslim countries of atheists who dared to speak out? The beliefs coming from these medieval holy books have a hell of a lot more effect than some cartoons. And they also happen to be believed by and practiced by millions and millions of people (including being part of the actual state policy in a number of countries). Whereas we have……1 magazine drawing cartoons 😐
    The Quran has done a hell of a lot more damage than any cartoon ever has.

  49. Paul Harrison

    Aylun comes from Syria – where 10% of the population are Christian because of “the disproportionate oppresion against them 18% of Syrian refugees are Christian- so remind me again what defines his religion in the Cartoon. Tell me again about how ‘these people’ are indoctrinated – its not maing yu sound like a bigot in the slightest!

    “But Charlie Hebdo are obviously trying to satirise public opinion”

    Oh its obvious is it? Nothing says satirising public opinion quite like portraying a dead toddler as a sex offender.

    “Some xenophobia is entirely rational”

    No its not – you can be afraid of a regime or a countries military or their leaders megalomania – to be afraid of someone based purely on their country of birth is the very definition of irrational.

    “First of all, race is an immutable part of your identity, religion isn’t.”

    You just claimed that they were indoctrinated from birth! So people should change their entire belief structure in order to avoid oppression – seems legit!

    “and don’t actually have to make it obvious to the world at all, if you
    wanted you could completely avoid telling the world what religion you
    subscribe to”

    Yeah – its all your fault for letting people know your religion – same as homophobia – all the gays fault!

    “You also probably wouldn’t have a religion if it weren’t for your childhood indoctrination.”

    Yeah no such thing as adult conversions!

    “Religions therefore have a causal influence in the world in a way that race doesn’t.”

    Your race doesn’t impact you in any way? Doesn’t affect your view of the world? Really?
    Not that any of this matters because the cartoon attacked refugees – not religions – you cannot change your country of birth so your entire argument is irrelevant.

    “No, cartoon depictions themselves don’t force the majority to think anything.”

    Who claimed cartoons they were solely responsible? they are certainly part of the problem though.

    “Once again, if it wasn’t for the backlash, most people would never even heard of these cartoons.”

    Chicken and egg – the cartoons are made to be as offensive as possible in order to bring them to the public attention.

    “people are not braindead simpletons who can be convinced of a worldview just from seeing cartoons.”

    Yeah – Media has no affect on us at all. Its not like companies spend billions each year pumping information into the media sector in order to influence us is it.

    “Otherwise it would have the same affect when they mocked christianity
    (after all christianity is a minority in quite a few european countries
    now)”

    you really don’t get this equivalency thing do you – can you name some of these European nations where christianity is a minority to other religions please.
    It may be to a lack of belief, but not to other religions – therefore it is the predominant religion because atheism is not a religion.

    “Where are the anti-Sikh movements in the west?”

    Last time I checked the BNP ain’t to cool about the Sikhs either – sorry but can you point to the Neo Nazi’s that a Sikh friendly please? Could you also point to where the Media is claiming that Sikhs are going to take over our countries.

    “”if you’re rude to minorities, it automatically leads to hatred”

    Good job i never said that then isn’t it. What I said is that if you paint minorities with a broad brush that depicts them as deeply negative (such as suggesting they all grow up to be sex offenders) then that does breed hatred. Take a look at 1930s Germany.

    “Do you have any clue how apostates and non-believers are treated in muslim communities?”

    I lived in Indonesia for eight months – they were fucking lovely to me actually. Judging by the stupidity of that comment I’m guessing you have never lived in a Muslim community and never will – so not liking a book makes fuck all difference o your life.

    “Have you not followed the series of murders in muslim countries of atheists who dared to speak out?”

    Indonesia is the largest Muslim nation on the planet – how many atheists have they killed for speaking out exactly?

    “The beliefs coming from these medieval holy books have a hell of a lot more effect than some cartoons.”

    You argument is ‘that is worse so this is OK’ – Really? Sorry but when did two wrongs become a right exactly?

    “And they also happen to be believed by and practiced by millions and
    millions of people (including being part of the actual state policy in a
    number of countries)”

    So? There are millions of people that support Christianity – do you want to play the ‘whose holy book says the most deplorable crap’ game, because they are both very bad. No country on earth follows either the Quran or the Bible to the letter – if they did Slavery would be out in the open and rife in those countries (Jesus had no issue with Slave owners at all – even tells them they will get into heaven). Every single country with a predominant religion choses to interpret that religion to suit its needs, they interpret how much input it should have to fit its needs. Religion is nothing more than an enabler for power, in its absence something else is found – as the likes of Hitler and Stalin proved so convincingly.

    “Whereas we have……1 magazine drawing cartoons” – yep the only anti islamic media out there in the whole of France is a single lonely cartoon. Riiiiiight.

    “The Quran has done a hell of a lot more damage than any cartoon ever has.”
    Cancer has killed more people than Ebola – so that means Ebola isn’t that bad right? That’s how your logic works right?

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