Charlie Hebdo

Of Cartoons and Flags

In February 2007, French prosecutor Anne de Fontette asked that the case against Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical political newspaper which published the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, be dismissed.

The prosecutor, in making the request, strongly defended the magazine’s right to free speech arguing that “the cartoons did not attack Islam, but rather the fundamentalists who acted in Islam’s name.”

French Presidential candidate front-runner, Nicholas Sarkozy, wrote a letter in support of Charlie Hebdo's right to publish the cartoons.

The complaint made by the Union of French Islamic Organisations and La Grande Mosquée de Paris centered on three cartoons:

- a cartoon, which appeared on the magazine's cover and was Charlie Hebdo's own cartoon showing a despondent Prophet lamenting that "It is hard to be loved by idiots" (my translation of "c'est dur d'être aimé par des cons") in reference to Muslim fundamentalists;

- the other two caricatures, were part of the infamous Danish cartoon collection.

In one cartoon the Prophet is asking a long line of suicide bombers making their way to heaven to "Stop, stop we ran out of virgins". In the other, the so-called “turbombe” cartoon, God’s Messenger is drawn with a bomb ready to explode on his head instead of the customary turban.

Saudi flag“One witness, a Muslim refuge from Algiers, displayed a Saudi Arabian flag to illustrate that the 'turbombe' cartoon was not the first to associate Islam with weaponry - the flag carries the Muslim declaration of faith, the Shahadah, underscored with a sabre.”

Bernard Payeur, March 8, 2007