We’re all reading Charlie Hebdo wrong


The world woke up to righteous condemnation over the latest Charle Hebdo cartoons. The French satirical magazine has been called everything from callous to disgusting to racist and insensitive.

And to be clear, they may very well be all of that, and more.

In the first drawing: “Si près du but…” or “So close to his goal.” The cartoon shows Aylan Kurdi’s body washed ashore in front of McDonalds ad, saying “Two children combos for the price of one.”

Charlie Hebdo 1

In what seems to be a rather distasteful depiction of the boy’s plight and the ongoing refugee disaster, perhaps the artists are saying something else.

Imagine what lengths the Kurdi family have gone through – the war, the hiding, the human traffickers, the trauma, and all so that they might reach a better place: a land of hamburgers and scavenger capitalism. Europe is sure as hell not all it’s made out to be.

The use of Ronald MacDonald is also particularly critical. Europe’s two-faced approach to the refugee crisis; it took the little boy’s death to humanise the refugee crisis, only for Europe to recognise them as potential consumers.

In the second cartoon, Charlie Hebdo goes all out to show, “The proof that Europe is Christian.” Here Jesus Christ stands, supposedly walking on the water, and announces, “Christians walk on the water” [while] “Muslim children sink”.

Charlie Hebdo 2

At first glance, these depictions appear to present a Christian vs Muslim binary, celebrating European Christendom versus others – especially unwelcome Muslim others. On a second look, it does, however, appear that Charlie Hebdo is poking fun at the establishment – the European establishment.

While there is a thin line between welcoming and deterring migrants and refugees, particularly Muslim refugees as the Hungarian prime minister did last week. The cartoon certainly points out that Europe is still more hospitable to a certain type of human being: a white, Christian. The cartoon doesn’t suggest that Muslims or other refugees should not be allowed into the Europe. In fact, it says the opposite: Christians are so protected by Europe, they could even walk on water to get here.

The cartoon pokes at the inhumanity of Europe. Not the refugee crisis.

Images via Morocco World News 


  1. “The images were drawn by artist, Laurent “Riss” Sourisseau. The political cartoonist has had to be chaperoned at all times by armed, plain-clothed police since the attack on the Charlie Hebdo headquarters.” – so brave

      • FUCK CHARLIE HEBDO..FREEDOM OF SPEECH..I HOPE THE employees of this filth die..um..I’m just practicing freedom of speech here, I’m glad the terrorists freed us of 12 dastardly souls..freedom of speech.

        • It’s quite possible that there was no murder at Charlie Hebdo. It could well have been a psy-op and the cartoonists may have been given different identities and new lives. There are a number of inconsistencies in the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack story. And as sensible news consumers, when we spot incongruities, we should make a habit of withholding our belief rather than suspending our disbelief. They way, we will tend to get fooled less often.

  2. Dear editors from the daily Vox
    thank you so much for having the courage of publishing a proper reading of the Charlie Hebdo especially when there is a 98percent misinterpretation in the rest of the world going on! Congratulations you have my support!

  3. When the point of a satirical piece is missed by 98% of its audience and causes them to recoil in horror, it was probably neither good satire nor a good idea.

    • The world is not their audience. Their audience are French who understand satire.

      Unlike most of the people commenting to this article.

    • That’s precisely the point… and besides that there are several other aspects of Europe’s standpoint regrading refugees, financial crisis management, solidarity (ot the lack of it) among European countries to make a point about the deeper, more internal crisis Europe is facing. Any other Reading of Charlie’s drawings is just a weak justification and a puré twist of the facts… I wonder if they would still do the same wre it one of their relatives to have drowned…

  4. Oh, please…

    This is the modern intellectual crisis. We have a hard time rationalizing the idea that people and organizations like Charlie Hebdo can (in fact) be utter jackasses, against the idea that they *still* do not deserve to be shot and killed. Charlie Hebdo is an intentionally offensive hack rag that no one with a brain should pay attention to. Let’s not try to rationalize them as nice, decent, intellectually-stimulating entertainment, just because they got shot up by people who are more offensive than they are. We can condemn the terrorist without sanctifying the terrorist’s target.

  5. I have never read this magazine in my life, dont live in europe and am not familiar with the immigration problems there. I saw this cartoon and instantly understood it was a critique of anti muslim policies. Sorry but if you dont get this you are either stupid or being willfully ignorant. I think some folks are just angry that this magazine is not willing to be the anti muslim immigrant haters they want them to be. This is pretty damn honorable on their part actually since they were shot at and bullied by muslim terrorists and they still are sympathetic to their plight. I wouldnt be so gracious.


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