It’s been 3 days now, since the massacre that occurred at the office of Charlie Hebdo , the renowned French satirist magazine, popular for taking controversial digs at religion and politics through its cartoon sketches. As worldwide demonstrations and eminent personalities continue to voice their support of the freedom of speech and condemning the violence, there is no denying that it had sparked some curiosity among those who were least bothered before, of the raging anger that had been created till date, by this controversial magazine.
Is Charlie Hebdo A Crusader Against Every Extremism?
One of them would be me too, I must confess. But now as I flip through the various pages linking me to the controversial cartoon sketches, there is one question that continues to persist within – “Was Charlie Hebdo trying to hold a crusade against the beliefs of the extremists?”. I ponder upon this question not on the pretext of religious ground but from every perspective that I could lay my eye upon. The religion, the politics, the persistence and the racism. You see, it seems to be that the magazine’s continuous objective was to break the strong grounds of ideological barriers, within which some of us still continue to exist even to this day and fear we would wither away upon being removed.
The soul aim was to laugh, as was quoted by Laurent Leger, a Charlie Hebdo journalist, who told CNN that the objective was “to laugh at the extremists—every extremist. They can be Muslim, Jewish, Catholic. Everyone can be religious, but extremist thoughts and acts we cannot accept.”
Ofcourse, that is what Satire is all about right? To ridicule the foolish behavior and views of others through the use of humour. “We treat the news like journalists. Some use cameras, some use computers. For us, it’s a paper and pencil,” was what the Muhammad cartoonist, named Luz, said to The Associated Press in 2012.
However , not many are able to grasp the ultimate motive of satire, which is to straighten out the ridiculous views held by people and which ultimately culminated to the Wednesday terrorist attack, killing twelve people and 2 policemen.
CBC News reports Stephane Charbonnier,the editor of Charlie Hebdo who was also murdered on Wednesday, to acknowledge back in 2012, “Muhammad isn’t sacred to me. I don’t blame Muslims for not laughing at our drawings…”.
A Paper Born With 1 Aim – to Purge the World of Every Extremist Belief
It seems that this was not the first time for the French paper to have faced threats. In the past, there were attacks inflicted upon the paper responsible for the ‘blasphemous’ sketches that it had published. The earliest traces of Charlie Hebdo begins with the demise of Hara Kiri, its predecessor whose satirical publication was banned by the French Government for cracking some fun at the cost of Charles de Gaulle.
Almost after a decade, Charlie Hebdo is born to be what Stephane Charbonnier decribes as a crusader of “left-wing, secular, and atheist”.
Let us have a look at some of the most controversial sketches published by Charlie Hebdo that are said to have stirred up the air for many.
- VOTE ASSHOLE
Image Courtesy: http://www.listverse.com
After its predecessor was shut down for ridiculing the then president Charles de Gaulle, the publication house came back with a bang with Charlie.Hebdo. Not long after, there took place a lot of fiasco centering de Gaulle and by the time the French municipal election started, the air was filled with a feeling of anti-Government. The publication house took advantage of the situation and came out with an issue with the cover picture reading “Votez Con”, which translates to “Vote Asshole” with the following words “You Don’t Have A Choice” written beneath.
Consequence of fame – The above statement seemed to have touched the sentiment of a lot of people who harbored the feeling during that time. No wonder, the phrase still appears in a lot of French graffiti till today.
- 100 LASHES IF YOU DON’T DIE LAUGHING
In the month of October, 2011, the publication house brought out an issue with Prophet Muhammad as the ‘guest editor’. The cover showed the picture of the grinning Prophet accompanied by a bubble quote warning of “100 lashes if you don’t die laughing’. The issue celebrated the victory of Ennahada, the country’s Tunisian Islamist party.
Consequence of Fame – A week after the issue was out, a Molotov cocktail was thrown inside the office premise, firebombing all the equipments and properties present. However, no one was hurt. Charlie Hebdo’s website was also hacked and leaving behind the following message, which said, “You keep abusing Islam’s almighty Prophet with disgusting and disgraceful cartoons using excuses of freedom of speech. Be God’s curse upon you!”
- LOVE IS MORE POWERFUL THAN HATE
Little did the extremists know what the firebombing attack could have had in store for them, for the magazine came back with one its most famous and ofcourse, controversial cover sketches of all time- a picture set in the midst of the ruins (caused by the bomb blast),which depicts one of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonist and a Muslim man sharing a passionate French kiss. The picture was accompanied with the following caption –“Love is more powerful than hate”.
Consequence of Fame – The sketch itself was provocative even for magazines that routinely publish images of Palestinians being murdered by Israelis and Muhammad. The magazine refused to stay passive. Editor Stephane Charbonnier, openly attacked the extremists by saying that he was doing his job of making their lives difficult as they did theirs.
- YES TO WEARING THE BURQA …ON THE INSIDE
There were times when Charlie Hebdo tried killing two birds with one shot and that is what he did when in 2010, the French Government banned women from wearing the Burqa or the Niqab out in public. To show support of the new law, the controversial magazine brought out an edition that featured the picture of a naked woman, frolicking around on the road with a piece of cloth ruffling between her legs. “Yes to wearing the Burqa…on the inside”, was the caption for the picture.
Consequence of Fame – Well, you may can guess the consequence by now.
- CARDINAL VINGT-TROIS HAS THREE FATHERS
If anyone thought that the staff members had to pay their lives for making fun at the expense of the Islam, then here is one thing you should know. Charlie Hebdo did not leave anyone of its satire. Not even Michael Jackson. While I would come to that later, in November 2012, the magazine came out with an issue on gay marriage. This was when the Catholic Right Wing party of France protested against the legalization of gay marriage. The cover picture depicted that of Jesus and another God engaging in the activity of sodomny, with the Holy Spirit bringing up the Rear. The caption – “Mgr Vingt-Trois a trios papas” was made as a direct reference Cardinal Vingt-Trois, known by many as an ‘outspoken gay marriage opponent’.
Consequence of Fame– It was nothing less than an apocalyptic. It enraged every Catholics, Christians and opponents alike. The cover proved to bring a lasting controversy.
- THE POPE GOES TOO FAR
This cover picture was inspired after the Pope gave a series of confusing statement, revolving around the Church’s approval of the use of condom, inorder to prevent the spread of disease. The cover depicts the picture of Pope Benedict XVI, holding aloft a condom and declaring “this is my body”, which is taken from the lines in the Christian eucharist and which is a reference to the crucifixion of Christ. The headline caption reads as “The Pope Goes Too Far” in parody to the statements made by the Pope.
Consequence of Fame – Not sure 😛
- YOU SHOULD’NT MAKE FUN OF US
In 2012, after the film named Intouchables made a box office hit in France, Charlie Hebdo produced another controversial magazine that shook half of the world with terror. The original film centers on the story of poor black man, hired as a care taker to look after the rich man who was paralyzed. The film was quoted to be a ‘small fest’ with subtlety less than a sledgehammer. The film inspired one of the magazine’s controversial cover sketch the ‘Intouchables 2’, which features the caricature of a Jew pushing a Muslim in a wheel chair. The caption read – “You shouldn’t make fun of us”. While that was just the layer of controversy, designed perfectly to provoke reaction, the inside part of the issue proved to be all the more bombastic. Based on the release of the film of the Innocence of Muslims (a highly anti-Islamic controversial film, which was credited to spark the Benghazi attack), there were sketches of the Prophet Muhammad with pornographic postures. For example, in one he was bent over, with a star that covers his asshole and a headline caption that says, “A star is born”. On another, he is shown lying absolutely nude on a bed, while the director films screening him from behind, while the Prophet says, “My ass? And you love it, my ass?”
Consequence of Fame – Catastrophic! While the Muslim world was set ablaze, about 20 foreign outposts were closed on the day the issue was to hit the shelves, for fear that the French nationals would suffer assaults. The world condemned the magazine, while the Parisian press rebuked it for its irresponsibility and misuse of the right to speech. The magazine too, was appointed with a permanent police guard.
I think I have spoken too much on the sensitive causes that Charlie Hebdo’s issues revolved around. Some of them were indeed highly controversial, while others were a little less I believe. Nevertheless, if the convicts thought shooting down a bunch of high profile heads would make a stop to humour and parody, which the magazine boldly depicts, they might think of condering to be wrong. The magazine had already begun to work, with an aim to run a total of one million copies next week. Besides, the massacre had already led to a number of posts getting published online and on newspapers with some of the magazine’s famous works that had triggered so many controversies till date. So anyway, the sketches, with their messages are getting circulated worldwide at a rapid pace and have already reached across different corners of one’s sleepy mind. And while the officials managed to force close Hara Kiri, Charlie Hebdon is going nowhere. After all the pen is mightier than the sword, right? You see if you persist and persist, you will succeed one day and those staff members of Charlie Hebdo were daring enough for a good cause, they stood against extremism and not against religion. So in the light of this, here is one final laugh for you, brought to you from one of the magazine’s cover picture issued in the year 2009, after the announcement of the death of Michael Jackson, which depicts the skeleton of Michael Jackson along with the caption – “Michael Jackson White At Last”.
Featured Image Courtesy:http://www.nbcnews.com