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This is What #JeSuisCharlie Looks Like to Muslim Women

This is What #JeSuisCharlie Looks Like to Muslim Women

Yes, we’re a Muslim publication, and yes, we’re publishing this. We asked our cartoonist friend Sam Romero to draw something up for us about Charlie Hebdo. We have the right to free speech, too, non?

The thing is, Charlie Hebdo uses the guise of free speech and “the right to offend” as a way to cloak its blatant xenophobia. Its use of art to perpetuate racist stereotypes and knowingly further the marginalization of Muslim people in France is reminiscent of anti-Semitic cartoons in the early 20th century. That’s not modern or liberated by any means. That’s straight up backwards.

Charlie Hebdo fired a cartoonist back in 2008 for an anti-Semitic cartoon, yet staunchly defends its right to flaunt equivalent intolerance towards Muslims. Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, gave us all a laugh when he joined France’s free speech rally and defended Charlie Hebdo’s right to publish Islamophobic cartoons. Yet, when a German publication accidentally published an anti-Semitic equivalent of Charlie Hebdo’s new Islamophobic cover, the Israeli embassy immediately contacted them to take it down and issue an apology. The word “racism” apparently has a different meaning if it’s applied to Muslims.

The extreme tension against French Muslims is both social as well as institutional. While Muslims make up around 8% of France’s population, they currently make up 60% of inmates in France’s prison system. Basically, France imprisons Muslims at a more disproportionate rate than the U.S. imprisons Black Americans. Now that’s saying something.

France was the first European country to restrict Muslim women’s religiously obligated veils. It continued its tradition of being a pioneer by also becoming the first country in the world to ban pro-Palestine rallies. Charlie Hebdo puts salt in the wound of an already ostracized and persecuted minority.

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Absolutely nothing justifies a shooting or the deaths of innocent people. Ahmed Merabet, the French Muslim policeman who died in the shooting to protect Charlie Hebdo in spite of their racism, is a testament to that. But let’s not kid ourselves that France is about self-expression, or that Charlie Hebdo is the white knight of that principled stance.

So, here’s our cartoon about Charlie Hebdo. Political cartoons and satire are heralded in society because they’re supposed to challenge power, hierarchy, and the status quo. Charlie Hebdo and the #JeSuisCharlie movement are motivated by a dangerous passion to preserve them.

Illustration by Sam Romero

View Comments (14)
  • You seem very American. And by that, i mean, you seem very ignorant about the issues at hand and incapable of understanding the actual issue.

  • It is important to remember that Charlie Hebdo is a racist publication. Newspapers that plastered their cartoons all on the front page are pandering to a visceral Islamophobic reaction. They are nonetheless not remotely like, say, the KKK. Their last issue before the murders was actually attacking Islamophobia. I have never said “Je Suis Charlie” and have no intention of doing so, but I also do not view it as a blanket endorsement of the content they publish. It is primarily about empathy for the victims of terrorism and yes, the right to free expression without fear. The French government may be hypocritical, given all their restrictions on free expression (most glaringly, religious symbols), but I (and America) are not; hate groups far more pernicious than Charlie Hebdo are allowed to speak here.

    You should also remember that Germany and France murdered their Jews en masse within living memory. There is a reason anti-Semitism tends to be fought harder than other forms of discrimination in Europe. And of course they banned pro-Palestine rallies; the right to free demonstration ends when people start burning down synagogues.

    • your knowledge of hi story is so limited, it is REVOLTING & DISGUSTING

      both France + Germany slaughtered MILLIONS of AFRICANS; RAPED AFRICAN LANDS + PEOPLES and continues to do that to this present day

      Germany has not PAID Namibia compensation recently for heinous horrible crimes

      and what is worst is that you justify that there is only “one” crime BS

      As for the racists barbaric obscene vulgar french, this is french culture:
      Educate yourself:
      Slavery by another name – CFA franc
      Summary & Comment:
      The CFA franc was created in 1945 and remains the currency of 8
      West African and 6 Central African countries. Poor as these countries
      are, they have for over six decades been depositing 65% of their foreign
      reserves in the French Treasury in Paris. They have no access to and no
      information about that money despite their problems. JMPA

      Also It’s important to know what political satire, the french BS is anything but satire

      • The Germans, with complicity from Vichy France and many others, killed six million Jews and five million others, yet I do not hold an eternal grudge against them for it.

        Germany should pay compensation for what it did in Namibia, but sadly if we define every country that doesn’t pay compensation for its crimes as evil, most of the countries in the world are evil.

        The CFA Franc is an issue of monetary policy. The deposits in France are owned by the African countries, and are used to maintain a peg of the CFA Franc to the Euro. Lots of economists think that the CFA Franc should be unpegged from the Euro, but if the countries in question chose to do that it would be something they could do collectively and France would have to return the deposits, or if they individually wanted to make their own currency they could do that as well. In any case, the CFA Franc has nothing to do with “French culture.” Ordinary people don’t have control over monetary policy (and that’s a good thing, since they don’t know anything about it).

        I don’t actually think that anti-Semitism should be taken more seriously than all other forms of prejudice. I’m just explaining the origins of why it might seem like that in Europe.

        Defining what is and is not political satire is not the job of the government. I don’t think Charlie Hebdo is funny.

    • You said they’re not like the KKK, but isn’t this how KKK and other racist-terrorist organisations started, by this idea that some people are superior complex by race (thus this “superiority complex” meant that insulting others is an acceptable and encouraged practice??

  • The religion the most mocked and insulted by Charlie Hebdo is Catholicism. Anyway they would love that cartoon and mean it in the most sincere way.

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