13/10/2015 1:48 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

Charlie Hebdo And Making A Caricature Of Tragedy

The attack on the French magazine Charlie Hebdo in January 2015 prompted worldwide outrage and fuelled an impassioned debate on the freedom of speech. It also gave birth to the famous #JeSuisCharlie hashtag - pretty much everyone on social media had "become" Charlie in an attempt to express solidarity with the magazine.

I stated then as I do now that I condemn any kind of killing. I, however, still think that #JeSuisCharlie was hypocritical and discriminatory. The magazine itself, in my opinion, crossed a line. Finding satire in life is good, it makes everything tolerable; but sometimes "humour" can be seriously damaging.

Mocking the Prophet Mohammad, while amusing for some, is not a laughing matter for many. I can understand why certain religious groups took offense to that. Many commentators made the claim that the magazine was racist, something I didn't believe back then because Charlie Hebdo, in past issues, had poked fun at other religious beliefs as well, coming under fire several times from different sections of society.

This time, however, I may take back every defence I ever made of the magazine. This time, their irony went too far. This time, their cartoons have no shades of satire but simply reek of discrimination. I may even take it a step further and call them racist. A dead child, Charlie Hebdo, is not funny. To use a likeness of a dead child to illustrate a point is insensitive and it shows how parts of the Western world, in their mission to label all Muslims bad, can be crude, heartless and even boorish.

The front page cartoon that now faces worldwide criticism shows Ronald McDonald along with Alan Kurdi -- the 3-year-old Syrian boy who drowned -- with the caption "Two Menus of Children for the Price of One."


Another cartoon, featured in the second edition, showed a drowned child next to Jesus Christ standing on water. The caption read, "Christians walk on waters... Muslims kids sink." The title of the cartoon: "The Proof that Europe is Christian."


I can sort of understand where they were going with the "proof that Europe is Christian" but in their attempt to mock Europe for its inadequacy and lack of action, they have only shown how cold-hearted they are.

A dead kid does not make front page headlines for any other reason except to depict an unfortunate state of affairs. What is going on in Syria is not funny -- thousands of people are being affected by it and trying to escape so they live to see another day. According to the UN, 9 million people, almost 14% of France's 2015 population, fled their homes since the outbreak of civil war in March 2011, taking refuge in neighbouring countries or within Syria itself.

Alan Kurdi's parents did not set out for a cruise; they were trying to escape the bombs falling on their city and wanted to give their children a safer place to live. It is our nonchalance and inability to do anything about this growing catastrophe that Alan had to set out on this journey and could not finish it. It is us -- the rest of world, including you Charlie Hebdo -- that is increasingly responsible for those dying kids and the helpless parents whose lives are shattered and world turned upside down, in the promise of a brighter future.

This time, you took it too far, Charlie Hebdo. Your cartoons made me sick. They make me question where your sense of humour was when the two brothers stormed into your office and killed your colleagues? Where did the satire dissolve then? That incident was not funny. Nor is this one. A dead child is a stain on our souls. It is not something to caricature but is a grim reminder of what we failed to do for Alan Kurdi.