Christians Walk On Water, Muslim Kids Sink: Charlie Hebdo Mocks Death Of Aylan Kurdi


Are you one of those people who leapt in to back French magazine Charlie Hebdo earlier this year?

Did you hashtag ‘Je Suis Charlie’?

Blindly? Without really knowing what the publication actually represents?

If you did, you might be feeling a little, well, ripped off right now.

In their latest edition, the ‘great defenders of free speech’ have featured a front page cartoon mocking Aylan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian boy whose body washed up on a Turkish beach recently, sparking international outrage at he treatment of refugees.

Under a strapline ‘Welcome to migrants’, the main text reads, ‘So Close To His Goal’, and then depicts a McDonalds billboard in the background with the (inexplicable) line, ‘Two Menus Of Children For The Price Of One’.

Apart from the fact it’s not funny, it also makes absolutely no sense. Maybe the ‘humour’ is lost in the translation.

A second cartoon is entitled, “The Proof that Europe is Christian,” and depicts a drowned child next to Jesus, whose standing on the water. The caption reads, “Christians walk on waters… Muslims kids sink.”

Charlie Hebdo was at the centre of western outrage in January this year, when gunmen – upset at the magazine’s constant mocking of the prophet Mohammed – burst into their headquarters in Paris and murdered 12 people, including editor Stéphane Charbonnier.

The attack saw an outpouring of support for the magazine in western nations around the world, and the next edition of Charlie Hebdo sold more than 1 million copies.

In stark contrast, a photo of the lifeless body of Aylan Kurdi – a young boy fleeing the civil war in Syria – also sparked an outpouring of international support, leading to extraordinary scenes in Europe of people both welcoming and rejecting Syrian refugees.

In Australia, it sparked a curious dialing down of the rhetoric used against refugees by both the Abbott Government and the Shorten opposition, with Australia announcing it would take 12,000 refugees from Syria before July next year.

At the same time, Australia announced it would widen its bombing campaign in Iraq to include Syria, and the government announced the 12,000 places would focus on the most ‘oppressed minorities’ – a dog whistle to earlier calls to restrict the places to Christian, rather than Muslim, refugees.

Chris Graham is the publisher and editor of New Matilda. He is the former founding managing editor of the National Indigenous Times and Tracker magazine. In more than three decades of journalism he's had his home and office raided by the Australian Federal Police; he's been arrested and briefly jailed in Israel; he's reported from a swag in Outback Australia on and off for years. Chris has worked across multiple mediums including print, radio and film. His proudest achievement is serving as an Associate producer on John Pilger's 2013 film Utopia. He's also won a few journalism awards along the way in both the US and Australia, including a Walkley Award, a Walkley High Commendation and two Human Rights Awards. Since late 2021, Chris has been battling various serious heart and lung conditions. He's begun the process of quietly planning a "gentle exit" after "tying up a few loose ends" in 2024 and 2025. So watch this space.