Why This Charlie Hebdo Image Has Me Cringing

January 16th 2016

Marwa Balkar

Humanity Washed Ashore,” a title to several news articles that I will never forget. It was a moment that briefly shook humanity. It was the story of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi, who was found face down, dead on a beach in Turkey.

This moment was a representation of the consequences of the world turning a blind eye. It’s easy to acknowledge that there is a crisis, but to see this child dead on a beach in an effort to escape the horrors in Syria was a reality check that everyone needed. It was a beautiful thing to see the world bind together. And in the days that followed, many cartoonists drew depictions in solidarity with the child, while donations poured in from all over the world in support of the refugee crisis.

“Je Suis Charlie,” is another news headline that I will never forget.


A photo posted by CharlieHebdo (@charliehebdo) on

In January 2015, terrorists targeted the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris, leaving 12 people dead in a bloody attack.

Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack aftermath in 2011

These are some of the victims:


A photo posted by CharlieHebdo (@charliehebdo) on

The attack was fueled by a cartoon that Charlie Hebdo had featured, mocking the Prophet Muhammad. It was a frightening event that lasted three days and left 17 dead across France. Multiple lives were shattered, but in the end, I was proud to see how people stood together in solidarity with the global community against these unfathomable crimes. No one deserves to face death or violence because of the freedom of their opinion. The cartoon was viewed as wildly offensive to Muslims around the globe because the Prophet Muhammad is a sacred and highly respected figure in the religion. Muslims have a very passionate connection to him. Drawing the prophet is prohibited in the religion, so it almost seemed that Charlie Hebdo went out of their way to be insulting. Still, there is no justifying the acts of the terrorists that day. Islam teaches to forgive, or to simply severe ties with the ignorant. It does not support the heinous actions of the murderers that day.

Recently, I was surprised when I saw both Aylan Kurdi and Charlie Hebdo in the same news headline.

I was absolutely horrified at what I was seeing. Charlie Hebdo has a cartoon depicting an adult Aylan Kurdi as a sex offender. He’s drawn with a face of a pig, chasing women. The dead child’s body was washed ashore to send a message to the void of human emotion that unfortunately exists. But the real lack of humanity is truly depicted in the disgusting Charlie Hebdo drawing. Seeing a comic that mocks the death of innocence is an incomprehensible low. Can you imagine being a relative of the deceased child and seeing Hebdo's work? It was not only Aylan's life, but also his brother and mother who's lives were taken by the sea. Tima Kurdi, Aylan's aunt, told Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, "We're trying to forget a little bit and move on with our life. But to hurt us again, it's not fair." The family already had this tragedy broadcast worldwide, but have to now endure this personal loss in front of the world again. This time at the mockery of Hebdo. My fear is that Charlie Hebdo enjoys poking the angry bear. To provoke an extremist is not courage, it is recklessness. Did they not learn of the extremely dangerous consequences that may occur by their comics, or were those 12 lives lost for nothing? Don't they remember this?


A photo posted by CharlieHebdo (@charliehebdo) on

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