A Controversial Cover


Charlie Hebdo Magazine to Show Islamic Prophet on Cover Again, but to Forgive.

The French satirical magazine that was subject to a deadly shooting last week has decided to publish their latest cover depicting a cartoon of the Islamic prophet once again. The cover shows the prophet with a tear in his eye and holding up a sign reading “Je suis Charlie” in remembrance of the dead journalists. The headline reads “All is forgiven”.

Zineb El Rhazoui, one of the remaining journalists who contributed to the cover, said the cover was an act of forgiveness towards the shooters Chérif and Saïd Kouachi. She also urged Muslims to accept humour, “We don’t feel any hate to them. We know that the struggle is not with them as people, but the struggle is with an ideology.”

A week after the attacks the remaining devastated journalists claimed the publication would run as usual. A massive 3 million copies are to be printed, in 16 languages, after the massacre triggered a global debate on free speech and brought more than 4 million people on to the streets of France in a unity march.

Asked to explain the magazine’s front cover, which features a cartoon of a crying Muhammad wearing a “Je suis Charlie” badge under the heading “All is forgiven”, Rhazoui said, “We feel that we have to forgive what happened. I think those who have been killed, if they would have been able to have a coffee today with the terrorists and just talk to ask them why have they done this … We feel at the Charlie Hebdo team that we need to forgive.”

She added, “The two terrorists who killed our colleagues, we cannot feel any hate … The mobilisation that happened in France after this horrible crime must open the door to forgiveness. Everyone must think about this forgiveness.”

Many however have opposed this decision, Omer el-Hamdoon, president of the Muslim Association of Britain said the situation likened to the Danish cartoon publication in 2005. He argued that at the time the cartoons depicting the prophet went into a “cycle of just publishing the cartoons just to show defiance”. He states it only caused more offence.

Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan echoed this view claiming the decision just added more salt to the wound, “If the cartoon had read ‘Je suis Ahmed’, given that many were carrying that badge after the police Ahmed Merabet who was killed, might not have put more salt to the wound but taken it to another level.”

Rhazoui however stands by their right to publish, “I would tell them it is a drawing and they are not obliged to buy this edition of Charlie Hebdo if they don’t appreciate our work. We are only doing our job, we don’t violate the law.”

She added, “Our friends died because of small drawings, because of a joke, but what happen to us was not a joke. Muslims must understand that we in Charlie Hebdo just consider Islam as a normal religion just like any other religion in France. Islam must accept to be treated like all the other religions in this country. And they must accept humour also.”


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