Satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo is facing online outrage after its latest edition featured a cartoon depiction of Alan Kurdi — the 3-year-old Syrian refugee whose body washed ashore on the coast of Turkey on Sept. 2.
The magazine is known for controversial caricatures of Muslims and the Prophet Mohamed and its Paris office was attacked last January when gunmen inspired by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula killed 12 people.
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The attack and the murders led to worldwide rallies in the name of free speech and press freedom. But, the cartoon of Kurdi is being called “tasteless” and “disgusting.”
READ MORE: Will this photo help people grasp the desperation of Syrian refugees?
The image, published in the Sept. 9 issues, draws from the widely shared photograph of Kurdi lying lifeless on the shoreline near the Turkish resort city of Bodrum. The photo brought the desperate plight of Syrian refugees to the front pages and nightly news headlines around the globe and prompted calls for more action to deal with the refugee crisis.
The Charlie Hebdo caricature shows a boy face-down in the tide with the caption: “So close to the goal…” Off to the side, a billboard resembling a McDonald’s sign reads: “Promo! 2 kids menus for the price of one.”
That wasn’t the only image, however. It was one of a number in a section titled “The covers which you escaped” — a regular feature with the designs proposed by the magazines illustrators.
READ MORE: These images changed public opinion. Has Alan Kurdi’s photo done the same?
Among the other images creating controversy was an illustration showing a young child’s feet sticking out of the sea while a Jesus-like character walks on water. The caption above reads: “Proof that Europe is Christian. Christians walk on water – Muslim children sink.”
Both of the cartoons were drawn by Laurent “Riss” Sourisseau, who, according to The Independent, has been under police security since the Jan. 7 terrorist attack.
Charlie Hebdo truly disgusts me. you can’t pass off everything as ‘satirical’, some of it is just crude and uncalled for
— Lindsay (@whoslindsay) September 14, 2015
Other “covers you escaped” veered away from images resembling Kurdi, but still addressed the refugee crisis unfolding in Europe.
The actual cover has the caption “Welcome to the Migrants” and an illustration of a beer-drinking man using a refugee in tattered clothes as a footstool, saying: “My house is your house.”
READ MORE: Salman Rushdie chastises authors protesting PEN’s Charlie Hebdo tribute
Amid the criticism was some praise for the Kurdi illustration. It came from Maajid Nawaz, founder of the counter-radicalization think-tank Quilliam.
In a Facebook post, Nawaz wrote:
“Fellow Muslims, please, if you don’t get satire just *ask* someone before assuming an intelligent left-wing satirical magazine isn’t … satire. Taste is always in the eye of the beholder. But these cartoons are a damning indictment on our anti-refugee sentiment.”
He added the image of the McDonald’s sign was a “searing critique of heartless European consumerism in the face of the worst human tragedy of our times.”