Charlie Hebdo: The French Satirical Magazine

The French Satirical or one can say that the most controversial magazine “Charlie Hebdo” is again under limelight after it republished a series of controversial cartoons of the founder of Islam, Prophet Mohammad. This satirical magazine is no stranger to controversy, extremist threats, and violence. Earlier, in 2015 magazine’s office was attacked by terrorists for this similar series of controversial cartoons. Hebdo is French slang for the weekly newspapers.

Why did Charlie republish those controversial cartoons?

Almost two months back, Charlie Hebdo republished those controversial cartoons of Prophet Mohammad. In a recent editorial published with those controversial cartoons, Hebdo said that wrote that now the right time comes to republish these cartoons, saying it was “essential” as the trial opens. The newspaper also said that they have been often asked since January 2015 to print other caricatures of Mohammed and Charlie’s team now felt that finally the right time because this week will see the fourteen people who helped the attackers get sentenced for being accomplices to a terror act.

The Charlie Hebdo shootings in January 2015, as well as the shootings at the kosher supermarket in January in Paris, launched a wave of dread and terror across France which resulted in five days of chaos until all the attackers were killed. Following the shooting, massive protests hit the streets of France as well as other parts of the world with protesters chanting ‘Je Suis Charlie’ (I Am Charlie) in defense of freedom of speech.

Charlie Hebdo has decided to republish a series of cartoons that culminated in a terror attack on its head office in Paris in 2015 | Image credit: Reuters
Charlie Hebdo has decided to republish a series of cartoons that culminated in a terror attack on its head office in Paris in 2015 | Image credit: Reuters

What is the Charlie Hebdo Trial?

Fourteen peoples were accused of helping the two brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi for carrying out the attacks. The perpetrators were killed in the wake of the massacre following a long man-hunt by French security forces. But 14 alleged accomplices in the attacks, which also targeted a Jewish supermarket, will go on trial in Paris on Wednesday.

Why did Charlie Hebdo offend Islam?

This anti-religious and left-wing magazine has no qualms about offending people in the name of religion. It all started when Danish daily Jyllands-Posten in 2005 published a series of 12 cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammad in various offensive positions. This series of cartoons sparked the Middle East riots in 2005. Charlie Hebdo reprinted this series of Cartoons in their edition named “Shariah Hebdo” in which they listed Prophet as its supposed editor-in-chief.

One of the cartoons reprinted in 2006 by the magazine, featured the Prophet wearing a bomb on his head with the words ‘All of that for this’ as the headline in French. This weekly series of cartoons has repeatedly caricatured Muslims and their beliefs. unleashed a wave of strong anger from Muslims across the world. This anger had been culminating in a terrorist attack on its employee back in 2015. In 2015, Muslim extremists launched an attack on the office of Charlie Hebdo in which 12 people lost their lives including cartoonist Jean Cabu, famously known as Cabu had lost his lives.

What had happened in 2015?

In January 2015, Hebdo’s office came under an Islamist Shooting attack after they published a series of controversial cartoons of Prophet Mohammad. Two Brother names Said and Cherif Kouachi on 7th January 2015 opened gunfire in Charlie Hebdo Office in which 12 peoples including several famous cartoonists and other staff got killed. Both these terrorist brothers who claimed to be a member of Al-Qaeda got killed by security forces.

Charlie attacked other religions too

The politically left-libertarian magazine has gleefully fired barbs at other religions too. Such as the Catholic Church,  when it was mired in child sex abuse scandals several years ago, and devotes even more space to lampooning politicians on the right and left. It also published a cartoon of the Virgin Mary giving birth to Jesus, who was depicted with a pig nose.

But its attacks on Muslims have caused the most controversy, including the firebombing of its offices in 2011 after its “Shariah Hebdo” edition. “Hebdo” is French slang for a weekly newspaper. In 2012, France was forced to close its embassies and schools in 20 countries after the magazine published cartoons of Muhammad. Muslims regard depictions of the prophet Muhammad as blasphemous.

Charlie Hebdo’s chief editor since 2009, Stephane Charbonnier who is also known as Charb was on an Al-Qaeda hit list. “This is a satirical paper produced by left-wingers and when I say left-wingers that goes all the way from anarchists to communists to Greens, Socialists, and the rest. Above all it is a secular and atheist newspaper,” Charb told Reuters in 2012.

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