Despite losing 12 staffers in the tragic massacre on January 7, 2015, the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, has continued to publish controversial covers and cartoons specifically targeting the religion of Islam. After a depiction of the Muslim prophet Muhammad led to Islamic extremists to opening fire on the Charlie Hebdo offices, the bold writers have yet again distributed an issue with a cover that has infuriated a handful of Muslims.
According to the Independent, the new cover has already provoked a wave of serious death threats on the official Charlie Hebdo Facebook page, prompting an investigation by the French police. There were about a dozen angry comments that could be considered “written death threats,” with at least one promising a second mass-shooting against Charlie Hebdo.
So what exactly is this seemingly offensive image? The cover shows a Muslim man and woman with a traditional beard and hijab frolicking nude across a beach. The cartoon is captioned “The reform of Islam: Muslims loosen up.”
French police investigates new threats against Charlie Hebdo https://t.co/9JTDjsLOvV pic.twitter.com/OHWS1m2SDu
— Voice of Europe (@V_of_Europe) August 15, 2016
Charlie Hebdo’s latest cover has been accused of deliberately mocking the Islamic faith, but the cartoon comes with a fair bit of context. The image was intended as a satirical response to the ban on full-body burkas (or burkinis) from beaches in Cannes. The law essentially forces Muslim women to expose certain parts of their bodies or avoid beaches altogether.
Not only has the Charlie Hebdo cover created outrage among some Muslim extremists, but the publication has also sparked a discussion among bystanders about what the true intention of the cartoon was. Is Charlie Hebdo criticizing Cannes Mayor David Lisnard for dictating how people should dress on the beach? Or are they truly making fun of Muslims for their strict rules about clothing by telling them to “loosen up?”
The Cannes ruling against burkinis claims that the decision was made in response to tragedies like the ones in Nice and Paris that were carried out by individuals who swore allegiance to ISIS. According to Lisnard, the burka ban is meant to promote morality and secular values.
“Beachwear manifesting religious affiliation in an ostentatious way, while France and its religious sites are currently the target of terrorist attacks, could create the risk of disturbances to public order.”
Either way, some unnamed individuals found the explicit image to be offensive enough to at least threaten a massacre, if not initiate one. Charlie Hebdo employees will have to hope the Facebook comment was simply meant to scare them. But, according to Le Parisien, Charlie Hebdo co-owner Eric Portheault has filed an official police report to ensure the safety of the staff.
“We have filed a complaint with the police of the 13th arrondissement of the Paris police over the threats,” he said.
Charlie Hebdo faces ‘imminent’ attack after publishing front page image of naked Muslims https://t.co/skDvI3mZUx
— Stephen Knight GS (@GSpellchecker) August 15, 2016
This week’s issue of Charlie Hebdo isn’t even the first time the satirical magazine has received death threats since the shooting in 2015.
“It never stops,” Portheault added.
The Charlie Hebdo offices are reportedly being guarded by police officers at all times.
But it isn’t only Islamic extremists making death threats. Earlier this year, a man threatened to “kill any and every” Muslim at a Council on American-Islamic Relations office in a manner exactly like the Charlie Hebdo massacre. His lawyer claims watching too much Fox News made him do it. Read more here.
What do you think? Was it unwise of Charlie Hebdo to publish the image of naked Muslims on the beach? Or should they be allowed to continually poke fun at religions without any fear of retaliation due to the freedom of speech?
[Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images]