Charlie Hebdo’s August 30 cover shouts, “God Exists! He Drowned All the Neo-Nazis of Texas,” in reference to the devastation in the Houston area caused by Hurricane Harvey.
The cartoon cover art was posted on Charlie Hebdo’s Facebook page on Tuesday, ahead of the magazine’s Wednesday publication.
“In a few hours, more than 600,000 comments flooded Facebook, and the protests were so numerous that the cover was withdrawn without Charlie being able to intervene,” said Laurent “Riss” Sourisseau, a cartoonist and staff member since 1992. “Many believed that the drawing was mocking the victims of the hurricane, whereas it clearly wasn’t about that. The subject was the American far-right supremacists, not the floods, about which there’s not much to be said, apart from how awful they are.”
The cover illustration depicts several Nazi flags, emblazoned with swastikas, half-submerged in floodwaters, as well as a number of arms jutting out of the water and positioned, not coincidentally, in Nazi salutes.
Both the flags and hands are being bombarded with heavy rain, the kind that characterized Harvey’s landfall and broke records in Texas.
The satirical French weekly newspaper has a reputation for frequently offensive expressions mocking extreme right wing ideologies, religion, politics and culture.
Charlie Hebdo has been the target of two terrorist attacks, in 2011 and 2015. Both were presumed to be in response to a number of controversial cartoons it published. In the second attack, 12 people were killed, including publishing director Charb and several other prominent cartoonists.
“The Americans’ unshakable faith in unlimited freedom of speech is both admirable and utopic,” said Sourisseau. “The (US Constitution) allows American Nazis to publish their abject propaganda, but also to carry weapons. The freedom to possess assault rifles is as unlimited as the freedom to express racist ideas. Without restriction, words can become as dangerous as weapons.”
“For a weekend, Charlottesville looked like Germany in the 1930s, when Nazis and Communists fought bloody street battles, each trying to deny their opponents any freedom of speech,” said Sourisseau. “Compared to such violence, Charlie Hebdo ‘s covers seem pretty inoffensive.”
Connect with NJTODAY.NET
Join NJTODAY.NET's free Email List to receive occasional updates delivered right to your email address!