Charlie Hebdo Is An Islamophobic Propaganda Sheet.
[ Posted by Lara Keller 23/9/15 Updated 19/10/20 ] Blog Table Of Contents
This illustrated article shows how the French satirical “Charlie Hebdo” magazine does not represent “freedom of expression”, but instead is an Islamophobic propaganda sheet, that is playing into the hands of far-right-wing racists.
In 2015 there was an horrific unjustifiable terrorist attack on the “Charlie Hebdo” magazine, followed by an understandable white washing of the magazine. The illustration above shows the link between those who fund Islamophobic groups and those who fund Fundamentalist Islamic (so called) groups. Both sources of funding come from elites who have an interest in promoting authoritarianism. The nominally left-wing “Charlie Hebdo” magazine has been openly promoting Islamophobia. The fundamentalist Islamist (so called) group who attacked the magazine, used anger at Islamophobia to recruit terrorists and justify their atrocity. This is the Tragic Irony.
Helping The Rise Of The French Islamophobic Far-Right:
At the same time there was a parallel increase in the popularity of Marine Le Pen’s far-right “National Front” (now “National Rally”) who benefited from Islamophobia and Islamist terrorism.
There was a fear her party would win the 2017 French presidential election (update: she managed to get to the last round against Macron, where she achieved 34% of the vote). Ironically her popularity was being supported by a climate of Islamophobia, that “Charlie Hebdo” had helped to increase.
She was absurdly asking the French people to trust the far-right National Front that she now led, which was founded by her holocaust denying father Jean-Marie Le Pen.
Marine Le Pen posed as a modern day Joan of Arc, saving the French nation from the alleged tyranny of foreigners. She posed as a champion of freedom of expression, and an enemy of “political correctness”. Ironically a far-right government would close down left-wing critics like the “Charlie Hebdo” magazine. The illustration above shows Marine Le Pen as Joan of Arc setting fire to Charlie Hebdo (also the everyman character in the magazine). To the right is a drawing of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonist and editor Stéphane Charbonnier satirizing himself. Added is the blue and red flame symbol of the National Front. Ironically his magazine was encouraging Islamophobia, which benefited the far-right authoritarianism of the National Front.
Two cartoons from the extremist leftist Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff (some of whose work as crossed the line from anti-Zionist to anti-Semitic, and who performed a shameful inexcusable volte-face from hating Assad to praising him). He correctly satirizes Marine Le Pen as a smiling fascist (in 2014), and Stéphane Charbonnier as someone who actively provoked the rage of conservative Muslims (in 2012).
In 2011 the Charlie Hebdo offices were fire bombed after an issue mocking Islam and the prophet Mohammad (the attack boosted circulation). In the summer of 2012 an extreme Islamophobic video called “Innocence of Muslims” was released in the US that resulted in a wave of riots around the world. Charlie Hebdo magazine opportunistically “poured fuel on the fire” in September 2012 with a series of naked caricatures of Mohammad.
In an interview reported by “Der Spiegel” Charbonnier complacently said “a drawing has never killed anyone”, he clearly had never heard of “Der Stürmer” famous for its vile anti-Semitic cartoons before the Holocaust (it’s influence was so bad that its editor Julius Streicher was hanged after the Nuremberg Trials). He also told the French news channel i>TELE: “We do caricatures of everyone, and above all every week, and when we do it with the Prophet, it’s called provocation”. Charbonnier was added to an Al Qaeda hit list.
Marine Le Pen’s father Jean Le Pen was one of the co-founders of the National Front in 1972. It attracted many who were nostalgic for the far-right Vichy Regime, those who were enraged by Algerian Independence and hard line fundamentalist Catholics. Jean Le Pen has repeatedly defended the collaboration of Petain’s Vichy far-right regime. The Vichy propaganda posters above, are a reminder of the authoritarianism of the Vichy regime, and it’s close links and dependence on a much darker brand of fascism.
This Vichy poster above could be ironically applied to Marine Le Pen’s attempt to gain power for her far-right National Front Party again, after the collaborationist far-right Vichy government of the Second World War (which provided inspiration and founding members of the National Front). This especially applies given Marine Le Pen’s Joan of Arc obsession. A far-right government in France is the disaster that Charlie Hebdo’s fueling of racist Islamophobia could result in.
How Islamophobia Progresses To Fascism:
The propaganda progression illustrated above, starts with denigrating a group as inferior and dangerous (stage 1). Charlie Hebdo magazine has done this with its Islamophobic propaganda, and the deliberate provocation of violent fundamentalist Islamists. The smearing of a whole religion is a racist act, when that religion is strongly identified with an ethnic-cultural group. This was and is the case with Antisemitism, and applies equally to Islamophobia. The next stage is to oppress the feared group, who are labelled as irrationally dangerous (stage 2). The resulting hatred and resistance from the oppressed group is used to justify murder and ethnic cleansing as the only solution (stage 3). Once a group has been “othered” and destroyed, the concept of universal human rights has been broken. This leads to the persecution and elimination of other groups (stage 4). Fascism.
The mass psychology progression illustrated above, shows an ordinary French citizen, symbolized by Charlie Hebdo’s every-man character dressed as Napoleon. He starts feeling that he has no power in modern France, because (like everywhere else in the Western democracies) the economy has been allowed to move beyond the control of democratic institutions towards a global elite, resulting is mounting inequality. He feels weak and therefore vulnerable and suspicious of “others” (stage1). He then goes on to look for authoritarian “strong” leaders who can protect him. He is encouraged to “fear” others, who he is told want to take his “place” (stage 2). He feels angry because he hates feeling weak and vulnerable, and is enraged by “others” he is repeatedly told want to “replace” him. He wants to find an expression for his rage (stage 3). He has acted to hurt those “others” who are not strong enough to fight back. He is told he has done the right thing by stopping them before they got too strong. He feels a sense of power. He never wants to go back to feeling weak and vulnerable, and wants to make sure by “dominating” others. Authoritarian “strong” leaders promise to empower him to do this (stage 4). Fascism.
Examples Charlie Hebdo’s Islamophobia:
Here are some examples of Charlie Hebdo magazine’s racism and Islamophobia.
This is a Charlie Hebdo cover from October 2014. It is mocking the 276 school girls who were abducted by the fundamentalist Islamist group “Boko Haram” from a town in North West Nigeria. They were raped, and some became pregnant. There was a large social media campaign (#BringBackOurGirls) to free the girls. There were offers of asylum in the West. Charlie Hebdo is mocking the possibility that traumatized pregnant raped schoolgirls might claim child benefit in the West. This is the true Charlie Hebdo (“Ce Est Charlie”): Sexist, Racist and in any terms Gross.
This is a Charlie Hebdo cartoon from November 2011. The most explicit part of the cartoon has been blurred on this web page, although the original was not blurred. I interpret this cartoon as the naked figure of Prophet Mohammad, with a gold star over his anus. It suggests that his teachings came not from his mouth, but from this anus. This is very highly offensive, because most Muslims believe that Mohammad recited the Quran after nights of dream like prayer in a cave. These recitations were transcribed immediately by his followers. They are miraculous in terms of their poetic structure and theological insight. Literally the Words of God. This cartoon is a blanket negation of every aspect of Islam. This is Charlie Hebdo (“Ce Est Charlie”): Extreme, Gross and in negating an entire religion of billions of non-Western people it is Racist.
This is the cover of “Charlie Hebdo” magazine from February 2006. The Prophet Mohammad is drawn holding his head, saying “it is hard to be loved by jerks”, under the title “Mohammad overwhelmed by fundamentalists”. This cartoon is ambiguous. Does it mean that all Muslims who love the Prophet Mohammad are jerks? Does it mean that nearly all Muslims are fundamentalists? Does it mean both? Does it perhaps mean some Muslims are fundamentalists and jerks? To the Islamophobic far-right all Muslims are inferior worthless dangerous fanatics. They would see this cartoon as supporting their racist ignorant prejudice.
The meaning of the cover becomes clear inside this edition of “Charlie Hebdo” [CH] magazine from February 2006. There are a number of offensive cartoons attacking Islam. Some are from the right-wing Danish J-P Newspaper from the previous year. One of the CH cartoons has a gap-toothed Prophet Mohammad saying in translation “Mohammed President! My program: Gather believers and to the ovens the Infidels”. There is the J-P cartoon of Mohammad with the bomb turban. There is also the Danish J-P cartoon with the translated caption “Prophet [Mohammed], you messed up f*ck, that keeps women under the yoke.” There were also many more in the same ignorant and offensive vein.
This is a cover of Charlie Hebdo magazine from 2011, where it claims to be against all religions.In reality there is a clear hierarchy in the aggressive Charlie Hebdo’s “so called” satire, that actually reads like abuse, ignorance and very little humour. The most abuse goes to 1.Islam, then 2.Christianity and lastly 3.Judaism.
The caption at the top of the image says: “After the scandal of Christ in the Pee of Avignon.” This refers to the destruction of a print of a photograph of the “Immersion (Piss Christ)” by Andres Serrano. It shows a plastic crucifix (with a figure of Christ attached) submerged in a tank of the (so called) artist’s urine. The photograph was attacked at a modern art gallery in Avignon. This is very highly offensive as the meaning of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ is central to Christian theology. As in other religions there are many interpretations of the crucifixion . Charlie Hebdo magazine makes an indirect reference to this Grossly Offensive work of art.
Charlie Hebdo’s Excuses For It’s Islamophobia:
1. Charlie Hebdo magazine excuses itself by claiming it mocks other religions. This is true but there is a clear hierarchy for scale and severity of the the magazines’ abuse: Islam>Christianity>Judaism. The magazine claims this is not true, and that the media only reports the Islamophobic abuse, which does not hold up when the magazine’s output is examined in detail.
2. The magazine claims that critics of the magazine do not understand the context of its satire. Above is a Charlie Hebdo cover satirizing Christian opposition to equal marriage between people of the same gender. The title means “The Bishop of Paris [23rd Bishop] has three fathers. The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit.” It is difficult to see either relevance or humour in this cartoon. The real story is about Christian fundamentalists and gay marriage. The irony worthy of satire is that Jesus or the Bible in general has almost nothing to say about homosexuality, especially when compared to Jesus’ teachings promoting love and cautioning against judgement. The cartoon satirizes a particular aspect of Christian intolerance, while the Islamophobic cartoons are blanket savage criticism of the whole of Islam.
3. The next excuse Charlie Hebdo uses is that it is critical of Israel, and is therefore not Islamophobic. The logic of this is flawed as Western far-right and far-left extremists can be both Antisemitic and Islamophobic. The Christian Right in the US is often Islamophobic and pro-Israel. The Charlie Hebdo cartoon above shows an Israeli settler asking a Palestinian who is in a humiliating position the question: “So what? It is cool to have a country?” It reinforces the Zionist idea that Palestinian Resistance to Zionist exclusion by the international recognition of Palestine is useless.
Here is another Charlie Hebdo cartoon that reinforces the Zionist idea that Palestinian Resistance is useless. Zionist propaganda repeatedly states the solution to the Palestinian problem is for all Palestinians to leave Israel-Palestine. Zionists compare the land area of Israel-Palestine and the Middle East. No account is taken of geography or political reality.
This Charlie Hebdo cover shows an Israeli solder and a French PSG football supporter. The soldier is saying “Israel will win!” under the title “Enemies over there [Palestinians].” The PSG football supporter is saying “Death to the Jews!” under the title “His friends [Palestinians?] over here.” The Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) football club in known for having some Muslim supporters, and some of these are antisemitic. The title above the cartoons says “Palestine has Two problems”. These are the Israeli army in Israel-Palestine, and antisemitic supporters of the Palestinians in France (and elsewhere in the West). This cartoon reinforces the Zionist propaganda message that justifies racist violence by Zionists against Palestinians because of antisemitism abroad.
Occasionally Charlie Hebdo has been genuinely critical of Israel. This is a cartoon after the Israeli army shelled an UNWRA school in Gaza in July 2014. The radio is playing “Yes School is over…..”
Charlie Hebdo Apologizing For Assad’s Genocide.
The Charlie Hebdo magazine is also relaxed about the genocide of Muslim Arab Syrians by the Assad regime. This is a cartoon from July 2013 just before the infamous Sarin attack on Ghouta in August by the Assad regime. It calmly compares the chemical weapons attacks by the Assad regime against the Syrian people, with an early monsoon in India. Where is the outrage in this cartoon?
This is cartoon about Syria is from September 2013. Shortly after the mass murder of Syrians in Ghouta, due to a Sarin attack by Assad on the 21st August 2013. The cartoon relates to the chemical attacks on civilians by the Assad regime, with a child reacting to a regime shell by saying “Oh I’m just a kid!”, with the response “Whoops! Pardon!”. There is a notable absence of outrage given the world wide revulsion at the recent Ghouta attack.
This Charlie Hebdo magazine cover, just a week after the mass murder in Ghouta, due to the Sarin attack by the Assad Regime on the 21st August 2013. It relates to calls for intervention by France against the regime. A presumably regime solider is targeted by a French missile. The cartoon has the the weasel words “Where do our taxes go? In the face of the Syrians.” This defense of the Assad regime against intervention fits the relaxed attitude of the previous cartoons to the killing of Syrian Muslims with chemical weapons.
This cartoon from April 2011 illustrates the ignorance of Charlie Hebdo magazine on the Syrian Revolution. The Assad regime did not face “pressure from the street”, but a people empowered by the Arab Spring to protest at over 40 years of ruthless brutal dictatorship.
This Charlie Hebdo cover is only two weeks after Assad’s Ghouta Sarin Attack. It relates to a story about gun violence in Marseilles from a year before, that turned into a big political debate about immigration and Muslims. The City’s Mayor(?) is saying “I wait for Obama’s Green Light” under the title “Should We Intervene In Marseilles ?” This refers to anticipated intervention in Syria by the US Obama government, after the Assad regime deliberately crossed his “red line” on the use of chemical weapons. There was no intervention, and Assad’s political genocide in Syria was given the green light to continue instead. The comparison in the Charlie Hebdo cartoon is inappropriate, but worse still it reheats the Islamophobic debate on a small minority of Muslim immigrants who had become criminals.
Occasionally Charlie Hebdo has been genuinely critical of the Assad regime. This is a cartoon from September 2011, at the beginning of the Syrian Revolution. Assad’s security thugs are saying “that’s really a peaceful demonstration”. It reminds me of the army of myopic righteous pacifists and fake-left dictatorship apologists in the West, who mistake the terrified silence of living or dying in a brutal dictatorship with peace.
Assad’s huge security forces were killing and torturing protesters indiscriminately from the beginning of the Syrian Revolution (and indeed anyone who challenged the regime from its illegal birth in a military coup in 1970). They then went on, with the help of Russia and Iran, to commit political genocide in Syria, largely unchallenged by the Western democracies.
Charlie Hebdo Celebrating The Military Coup In Egypt.
This is the Charlie Hebdo magazine cover two days after the massacre of Morsi supporters by the Republican Guard in Cairo. On 8th July 2013, 51 protesters were killed, and 435 injured. Earlier President Morsi had been ousted by the military in a coup. The cartoon shows a man dressed as an ultra-conservative salafist, being shot while holding up a copy of the Koran for protection. He title says the “The Koran Is Shit”. The yellow caption reads “It does not stop bullets”. The smaller caption reads “Slaughter In Cairo”. The cartoon manages to be both Islamophobic propaganda and grossly insulting to those who died.
Charlie Hebdo, Islamophobia and Opportunism.
The image above shows Jean-Marie Le Pen in February 2010. His daughter Marine Le Pen replaced him as President of the far-right National Front in the following year. The National Front poster behind him reads “No To Islamism, Youth with Le Pen.” The National Front has successfully moved the focus of it’s racism from the Antisemitism under Jean-Marie Le Pen to Islamophobia under Marine Le Pen (together with enthusiastic support for Zionism). This was and is pure opportunism, as Antisemitism has been replaced by Islamophobia as the form of racism best tolerated by the West’s elites.
Philippe Val helped to resurrect Charlie Hebdo magazine from the dustbinin 1992, it had it roots as a radical publication in the 1960s and 1970s which had finally ground to a halt in 1981. Philippe Val always had an obsession with supporting Israel in his editorials.
In 2003 Philippe Val and the Charlie Hebdo magazine in general, moved on and started an obsession with promoting Islamophobia and the “Clash of Civilizations”. The magazine moved away from antagonism to all religions, to targeting Islam and Muslims in the harshest terms.
In 1997 Fiammetta Venner, Caroline Fourest and Moruni Turlot formed a feminist organization called Prochoix. It started by promoting feminism and LGBT rights, but rapidly moved towards a focus on Islamophobia. Charlie Hebdo promoted their work, and Venner and Fourest started working for it from 2004 onwards.
After firebomb attacks on Charlie Hebdo magazine and accusations of racism, the magazine hired Muslims in 2012. Including Zineb el-Rhazoui a journalist, an atheist and human rights campaigner. She is a Moroccan with a mixed French Arab background. She specializes in fanatical attacks on Islam, whose authenticity are weakly justified by her Moroccan background and a masters in the “Sociology Of Religion” (see so called “native informer” syndrome). [update: Zineb el-Rhazoui left Charlie Hebdo after 2015, because their attacks on Islam were no longer sufficiently harsh]
Islamophobia is a threat to democracy in France and the rest of Europe. The cartoon above illustrates how Islamophobic racism coupled with a sudden economic depression would empower the far-right (ie Marine Le-Pen in France). This cartoon is based on Carlos Latuff’s work (some of which has crossed the line from anti-Zionist to anti-Semitic, and who has now performed a shameful inexcusable volte-face from hating Assad to praising him).
The Islamophobic content of the Charlie Hebdo magazine is voluminous, and inexcusable. The set of examples shown in this article are the tip of the iceberg, there are plenty of others examples to examine.
The magazine courted outrage, which resulted in an inexcusable attack on its offices and the murder of prominent members of its staff. This attack greatly amplified the negative consequences of the magazine’s Islamophobic content. There is an unhealthy feedback loop between Islamophobes and Violent (so called) Islamist Extremists. The activities of both are destructive, and they help to fuel each other.
The cartoon above illustrates this unhealthy feedback loop. Western Elites fund Islamophobic abuse, create an atmosphere of fear of Islam and promote repressive policies to “protect” people from this threat. At the same time, the Elites of Dictatorships who have gained and kept power by promoting Islamic Extremism, are funding groups who promote this extremism, and also fund groups who attack those who are moderate or who follow a conflicting form of extremism. They falsely claim they are protecting people from being destroyed by those who hate Muslims and Islam. Clearly Islamophobia and Islamic Extremism strengthen each other, with ordinary people feeling they need to be protected by one side or the other.
Charlie Hebdo magazine have obviously made many attacks on the Marine Le-Pen and the french far-right. It is deeply ironic that their attacks on Islam have advanced the agenda of far-right far more successfully, than any of their attacks on the far-right have impeded it. The magazine was preaching to the converted on the far-right, but by indulging in unmoderated Islamophobia they made it seem fashionable.
After the January 2015 shootings there was a large outpouring of emotional solidarity for those killed and injured at the Charlie Hebdo offices. Ten workers at the magazine were killed, including the well known cartoonists Cabu (Jean Cabut), Charb (Stéphane Charbonnier), Tignous (Bernard Verlhac), Wolinski (Georges Wolinski) and Honoré (Philippe Honoré). Also killed were two police officers (one was assigned to guard Charb), and a maintenance worker who just happened to be at the reception desk. Over twenty others were injured. The solidarity response centred on the social media tag “Je Suis Charlie” (I am Charlie [Hebdo]).
The magazine had a small circulation, and it is doubtful that many people saying “Je Suis Charlie” actually knew the extent of the magazine’s Islamophobia. Stéphane Charbonnier was working on a book on Islamophobia at the time he was killed. Typically it was dedicated to the false claims that Islamophobia is not racist, and condemning it is a distraction from fighting real racism.
There was a backlash against anyone who criticized Charlie Hebdo, or the “Je Suis Charlie” campaign. Some of this was justified, as some people did claim a perverted sympathy with the terrorists rather than their victims. The beatification of Charlie Hebdo magazine with the “Je Suis Charlie” campaign was grossly inappropriate. Sympathy for all the victims of the shooting should have been expressed, while not endorsing the magazine. Clearly no one deserves to die for writing, drawing or producing the Charlie Hebdo rubbish.
It would have been better and more effective if protests against Charlie Hebdo’s Islamophobia had come from all sectors of French society rather than leaving it to Muslims only. The magazine should not have been banned, but it would have been an effective opportunity to defeat Islamophobia by uniting society around condemnation of its content.
After the shooting the correct response should have been “Je Suis L’Ironie” (I am Irony). That is the inner truth of this tragedy.