Le Monde, which is one of the most prestigious newspapers in France, recently came under fire by critics after it published a controversial image of President Emmanuel Macron looking like Adolf Hitler on its magazine cover. As a result, the newspaper was forced to apologize to the readers for stirring up outrage.
The newspaper’s Saturday magazine featured a monochromatic image of Mr. Macron alongside a photo of the country’s “Yellow Vest Protesters” marching towards the historic Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
According to a report by the French media outlet, France 24, when readers saw the cover, they were taken aback and expressed their disapproval on social media. Critics pointed out that the cover of magazine ‘M’ was similar to the July 2017 cover of Harper’s Magazine which featured a photograph of German dictator, Adolf Hitler, overlaid with a picture of people performing the infamous Nazi salute.
Following the strong backlash, Luc Bronner — the editor-in-chief of the magazine — took to his Twitter account and clarified that the intention behind the image was not to provoke the masses. He posted an apology in the French language, which translates to the following, as quoted by France 24.
“The cover of M magazine du Monde dated Saturday 29 December has provoked critical reactions from some of our readers. We apologize to those who have been shocked by designs that obviously do not correspond in any way to the criticisms we have received.”
Bronner provided further justification in subsequent tweets, saying that the image in question was inspired by the works of different artists, including Canadian illustrator Lincoln Agnew, and added that the red-and-black elements used in the image referred to the “graphics used by Russian constructivists at the beginning of the 20th century.”
Les éléments utilisés faisaient référence au graphisme des constructivistes russes au début du XXe siècle, lesquels utilisaient le noir et le rouge. La couverture s’inspire par ailleurs de travaux d’artistes, notamment ceux de Lincoln Agnew.— Luc Bronner (@lucbronner) December 29, 2018
Despite the widespread outrage, there were a few Twitter users who came to Le Monde’s rescue and commented that the comparison was irrelevant. Mr. Alexis Lévrier — an academic at the University of Reims in France with a specialization in the history of the press and the media — tweeted that the said cover has no similarity with Nazi iconography and added that the “indignation spreading on Twitter is sometimes absolutely indecent.”
Cette couverture de @lemonde_M est splendide, et n'a évidemment rien de commun avec l'iconographie nazie. Les indignations qui se propagent sur @Twitter sont parfois d'une indécence absolue. Cc @RichardFerrand, @briceculturier et tant d'autres. #reductioadhitlerum #pointgodwin https://t.co/w9mIXoPqBQ— Alexis Lévrier (@Alexlevrier) December 29, 2018
The current political atmosphere in France is already tense with the Yellow Vests carrying on their protests in Paris against economic disparities and high energy prices for seven weeks. Per a report by the Daily Mail, thousands of “police personnel, water cannons, and armored vehicles” have been deployed in the city on the orders of President Macron to deal with the protesters.