Insensitive Cartoons: Charlie Hebdo Mocks Death of Drowned Syrian Toddler


The worst terrorist attack in France in more than 50 years at the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris earlier this year caused worldwide revulsion, provoked denunciations by Muslim leaders, and prompted millions to march for freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

Charlie Hebdo, victim of horrific jihadist attack in January, is now under fire after publishing a series of racist and insensitive cartoons mocking the death of drowned Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi.

The latest satirical edition depicts the dead Aylan lying face down in the sand under the caption ‘So Close to Goal’. Above him is an advertisement for McDonald’s reading: ‘Two children’s menus for the price of one’.


There is also a cartoon mocking Aylan’s religion, with a caption reading: ‘Proof that Europe is Christian’. It shows a Jesus-like figure next to the words ‘Christians walk on water’ and a little boy upended in the sea next to the words ‘Muslim children sink’.


Has Charlie Hebdo gone too far by mocking the unfortunate death of an innocent kid? Is it a good time to mock a catastrophe and associated outpouring of grief from around the world?

However, defenders of the cartoons argue that the magazine is using racist and religious stereotypes to mock racist and religious stereotypes and believe Charlie Hebdo did not overstep the mark.

The body of Syrian refugee Aylan Kurdi was washed up on Bodrum beach, in Turkey on September 2. He drowned, along with his mother and five-year-old brother, after their boat capsized as they tried to reach the Greek island of Kos. The tragedy led to a vast outpouring of compassion around the world, with countries pledging to take in thousands more refugees.

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  1. The cartoons may be insensitive and of very bad taste (I think it is), but I don’t think they should be so hardly criticized. You may say what you want, I’m fan of freedom of speech as long as it’s only words and I’m not a reader of the magazine so I can’t take a well informed opinion about the whole issue, but seeing those pictures it seems to me it’s more a criticism to Europe, christendom and the western culture than mocking the death of that child. It seems to me what it’s actually mocking is the heartless society we live in, the hypocrisy of our culture, governments and religion that allow those things to happen while selling guns, closing borders and broadcasting “christendom superior morality” (which I think is bullshit, by the way. I think most religious thinking is bullshit (including islam, of course), but I have a special dislike for christendom, my “home religion”. I just respect other people’s right to choose their belief system as long as they don’t cause harm.).

    So I don’t think it’s racist or even that it has anything to do with islam at all, being instead a hard critic of western society, specially consumerism and religion, because most people didn’t worry or cared until they saw the famous picture of the poor child dead on the media.

    But, hey! Just my opinion. You may think or say what you want.

  2. Do you need Ayan image to mock Catholics, health, Mc Donalds, refugees??? Ain´t it a lack of creativity? Are you trying to show how sarcastic you can be. He dead body over de sea shore just moves sarcasm on you? That “resource” gives you more results on sarcasm or bad taste, more on respect or morbid fasination???

    Do you enjoy using dead boys to transmit that someone needs to change his health, beliefs?

    You are just a poor wonker.

    • I assume, Pablo Esbry, your comment was aimed for me. If that is the case, I want to tell you I wasn’t being sarcastic, it was just my honest opinion, no filters on.

      If we shut down a cartoon for being insensitive, of poor taste, uncreative, sarcastic, morbid or even disrespectful when no real harm is done, where should we stop? Maybe banning insults (by the way, thanks for yours, now I know how much of a waste I am -that was sarcasm-)? Or forbidding intolerant statements (bad news for abrahamic religions, many governments and their followers, amongst others)? Should an opinion be forbidden? Maybe it’s me being naive or stupid but I don’t think we should use those kind of prohibitions.

      If your social environment is full of responsible people who worries about social, economic and environment issues and awareness of government actions and try to do their best to improve the world, and you yourself are one of those people, I’m glad for you (no sarcasm, really), but that’s not what I perceive in my social environment: prejudices against other ethnics/nationalities/cultures, corruption allowance, delusional blindness (often caused by religion and/or lack or formal education), etc… and most people don’t react with anything less than shocking. We allow our governments to sell guns and reject immigrants, and we don’t care, and suddenly everyone is so shocked for the obvious consequences of the actions of the governments we choose. And now we are shocked by those cartoons? And muslims feel attacked by that cartoon? Really? What is implied there? Cartoonist insensitivity or cruelty? Maybe. But maybe the hypocrisy, blindness, delusion, carelessness, cruelty and worse qualities are on the side of both common people and big organizations (like governments and religions).

      I personally find those cartoons disgusting and the death of Aylan heartbreaking, but that’s not the point at all, I think it never was. I hope you can understand my point of view, even if you don’t share it.

  3. Nobody is Innocent and definitely no moslem children thay grow up fast with hate in their hearts! How many Muslims have the nobel peace prize !

  4. ‘They’ = the handful of war mongering capitalist families.
    ‘They’ call themselves ‘the modern western world’
    ‘They’ own most of the politicians and the main stream media.
    ‘They’ want war, because it renders huge profits.

    Scared people with feelings of hate WILL go to war.

    Europe wasn’t following exactly the way they wanted, so they took care of a 9/11 in Europe, by killing people at Charlie Hebdo.

    They they are bomming the shit out of – mostly muslim – countries, trying to devide the world population.
    They scare the refugies all over Europe, with all the turmoil that goes with it.
    They scare us all. That’s the plan.
    They know that most people will bring ‘religion’ into the discussion.
    They see that as a nice bonus and the ultimate plan is to spread hate – which leads to war – etc.
    They know, that religion is a splendid ingredient to start a – preferrably global – war. So they use this argument, also knowing that their whole project has nothing to do with religion.
    They don’t care.
    They want money.

    But they still need ‘we the people’ for approval, because they represent only 1%.
    Pictures of the little boy were priceless to their media.
    Media, believed by ‘we the people’.
    Media that give us entertainment, news, reality soaps and every other sick treats we prey on.
    THEY were insensitive, not Charlie Hebdo.

    ‘We the people’, on the other hand, are not insensitive, we are just stupid.
    We believe almost everything they tell us through the media they own.
    They call upon their politicians to compel us.
    We obey, because we are scared.

    Your money in their pockets.
    Your offspring in their graves.

  5. Charlie Hebdo should apologize to McDonald’s for depicting them in their heartless cartoon. The death of Aylan is searing but to show McDonald’s somehow presiding over the death of a child — the death of the planet(!) is an outrage to the right-thinking, sensitive activists of Anonymous. Charlie Hebdo has gone too far, and the Muslim journalists that write for this site are not amused–Praise be to Allah. May he eviscerate ALL unbelievers.

  6. The cartoons as i got them are mocking Christianity which teaches about supernatural miracles but can’t rescue little child!! “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these Matthew 19:14”, or the ever told miracle of the mighty one walking on water but keep only watching the muslim children drawing. The other cartoon the artist shoot the “larger than life corporations” which make amazing offers to make European and rich children happy but turn to be blind in front of child like Aylan.
    Charlie Hebdo is misunderstood

  7. If you want to write an honest and fair article about these cartoons, you should have a look at this:
    This publication was addressed to media, as the title reads: “Satirical cartoon explained to idiots”. I am sure anyone willing to fully understand what the magazine meant will of course try to hear from this point of view, and not only expose simplistic arguments.
    It will, I hope, improve your knowledge about the magazine and maybe help you reconsider what you think you know about “satire”.
    And for the freedom of press, #jesuischalie


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