Charlie Hebdo Responds to Muhammad-Inspired Firebombing with More Blasphemy November 8, 2011

Charlie Hebdo Responds to Muhammad-Inspired Firebombing with More Blasphemy

Last week, the satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo ran with this cover:

That’s “guest editor” Muhammad saying “100 lashes if you don’t die laughing!”

For that, Hebdo‘s offices were firebombed, their website was hacked (with messages like “No God but Allah”), and protests erupted across Europe. Very likely the courtesy of extremist representatives from the “religion of peace.”

A week has gone by and the newspaper is now operating out of another office. They haven’t lost their edge, though. First, they “defended ‘the freedom to poke fun’ in [a] four-page supplement… wrapped around copies of the left-wing daily Liberatio.” That happened one day after the bombing.

And here’s their cover for this week’s issue:

The words translate to “Love is stronger than hate.” Beautiful 🙂

I love that cover, but I think a reissue of the previous edition would’ve worked just as well. If extremists are going to resort to violence, the solution is to keep the images coming until they become immune to them. Remind all Muslims that freedom of the press doesn’t mean “you can criticize everything except Islam.” And even if moderate Muslims oppose the violence, they ought to say that others are welcome to draw Muhammad as they wish even if they themselves can’t/won’t do it. Their faith may have rules about not drawing images of Muhammad, but the rest of us are under no obligation to abide by them.

The more anyone complains about it, the more we need to push back until criticism of all faiths is equally accepted. (We’d have to take the punches right back, but I don’t know any atheists who have a problem with that. Bring it.)

The last thing we want to see is anyone intimidated into publishing this image instead:

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  • Anonymous

    In an odd kind of way, these kuckledraggers actually cause more offense to regular Muslims than they prevent.

    Let’s take the classic Danish cartoons as an example. A bunch of cartoons are published by a Danish paper with an obvious provocative intent, knowing full well many Muslims would find it offensive. Now let’s change things a little. Imagine that instead of the riots, murders, fires and general temper tantrum that followed, you had gotten a measured response. A flurry of letters to the editor, press releases from Muslim organizations condemning the portrayal and…that’s it. What would be different about the impact?

    – The world at large would have never heard of the story. It would have remained a Danish mini-scandal.

    – The cartoons would have not been re-printed the world over. The Danish newspaper has a circulation of less than 200,000 copies. Now billions have seen the cartoons, not thanks to the newspaper, but thanks to the classic backlash against censorship which results in more, not less, circulation. Thanks to the extremists, Muslims all over the globe were given the opportunity to see images they were sure to find offensive or at least distasteful.

    – The impression of Islam as violent would have been undermined. This one is a bit tricky, because of course we don’t usually register all the times people don’t go out of their minds for some emotional slight. I don’t doubt that every day Muslims encounter things they find deeply offensive and they don’t go ape-shit over them. However what is true is that by rioting, burning buildings and assaulting others, you do more to make Islam seem violent than a million cartoons. And those who are not violent but condemn the cartoons with more outrage than the violent thugs contribute even more to the perception of misplaced priorities. Oh and on that last point I would include many non-Muslim apologists who wanted to blame the cartoonists for the riots, and not the rioters.

    So instead of a few cartoons and a mature, measured response that would put people on the side of the offended, the extremists managed to explode the circulation of the cartoons, give credibility to their message through actual violence and make the non-Muslim world even less likely to listen to pleas for respect of their traditions. Well done boys, bang up job!

  • Anonymous

    Just one quibble about this otherwise fine article. Yes, Charlie Hebdo’s office was firebombed and its website hacked, but I haven’t seen any evidence that “protests erupted across Europe”. In fact, the only recorded protest I found was in support of Charlie Hebdo.

  • Tim

    I love the second cartoon.  very clever.

    When the Danish Cartoons came out, almost every other European newspaper rushed to defend freedom of expression but with the notable exception of Charlie Hebdo, none off them were brave enough to show solidarity by reprinting them.  I find that shameful and embarassing. 

    I’d be interested to know if any US papers have dared reprint the current cartoons.  You guys usually have a better understand of what Freedom of Expression actually means.  So well done to Friendly Atheist for publishing the cartoons 

  • i suppose my only point would be this…Islam is supposed to be the “peaceful religion”, yet they’re pretty much the only ones firebombing press offices in the name of religion. i mean, Baptists generally consider a crucifix a “false idol”, but i can’t recall any remotely recent incident of Baptists burning down Catholic churches or buildings (let alone bringing the issue up in a newspaper).

    for being a so-called “peaceful religion” with “only a very small percentage of radicals”, Islam seems to be doing a pretty good job of proving that otherwise.

  • Anonymous

    Actually you’re entirely mistaken about that. In fact, many European newspapers reprinted the cartoons and American (and UK) media was roundly criticised for not doing so. Though some American press did take a stand, the major media (NYT, WSJ, WaPo etc.) all decided not to reprint the cartoons out of “respect” (read: fear).

    See here for a list of Newspapers that reprinted the cartoons. Note the dominance of European press:

  • P. J. Reed

     i can’t recall any remotely recent incident of Baptists burning down Catholic churches or buildings (let alone bringing the issue up in a newspaper).

    Really?  How about burning down abortion clinics?  
    How about just outright murder?

    for being a so-called “peaceful religion” with “only a very small percentage of radicals”, Islam seems to be doing a pretty good job of proving that otherwise.

    Out of the ~1.5B Muslims out there in the world, what percentage of them would you say firebomb press offices?

  • Valhar2000

    A while back, after the Danish cartoon fiasco, the president of Iran organized a contest where contestants could send in cartoons of Jewish people. He predicted that Jews all over the world would make a huge fuss and that western governments would back them up.

    The contest took place, the cartoons were released (many were republished in this very blog for us to see)… and nothing else happened.

    So, your experiment has been tried (more or less), and it had the results you predicted.

  • Gus Snarp

    The one thing I would do is throw in some blasphemy aimed at Christianity too. Just to make sure everyone knows it’s about making fun of religion for being stupid, not about making fun of Muslims because they’re destroying European culture, or some such crap. By all means, keep drawing Mohammed to make sure the extremists know you aren’t cowed, but your message becomes even stronger if you also have the courage to insult a religion with more adherents in the area where you publish. So lets see a pedo-pope on the cover, Jesus making out with Mohammed, etc.

  • Anonymous

    Ohhhh. So that’s what Muhammad looks like. Kinda looks like the ‘mad bomber’ (crazy harry) from the Muppet Show, which is kinda ironic.

  • rhodent

    It’s not quite true to say that “nothing else happened”.  A couple of Israeli cartoonists announced “the Israeli Anti-Semitic Cartoons Contest”.  One of them was quoted as saying “We’ll show the world we can do the best, sharpest, most offensive Jew hating cartoons ever published!  No Iranian will beat us on our home turf!”  You can read a little bit about it at “”

    I think that may have been the perfect response to the Iranian contest.  If there’s a better way to underscore how ridiculous the Iranians were being with their contest, I don’t know what it is.

  • Tim

    Thanks.  I have learn’t something.  My perspective was from the UK were I note they were only reprinted in a Welsh-language student paper witha  circulation of 200!

  • Matt Schuh

    At first I was like “Micronmeatmad?”  But then the greek kicked in.

  • Drew M.

    Hah. Same here.

  • I still don’t get it.  micro + ham + Mad.  Small servings of meat make me mad?

  • Are they drooling?

  • Alla & Greg M

    If you recall burned Danish embassies and business offices in many Muslim countries, it may be much higher percent.  It does not mean I vote for Baptists or Catholics.

  • It’s mu-ham-mad. Yeah, took me a few seconds of staring at it.

    @google-6e63ff2adaeeb80a1de7776c4409c0b9:disqus  — I’ve re-read your comment three times, and keep reading it as “the geek kicked in”. (I didn’t even notice you’d said “greek” until the fourth time I looked at your comment.)

  • Baktru

    That Greek letter reads ‘Mu’.

  • Anonymous

    Some people like the sloppy kissing.

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