Charlie Hebdo is at it again—this time with jokes on drowned toddlers and the refugee crisis

Satire at its best or worst?
Satire at its best or worst?
Image: Reuters/Luke MacGregor
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French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo has weighed in on the refugee crisis and the results are, unsurprisingly, controversial.

The magazine was made world famous when Islamist militants stormed in and killed 12 people earlier this year over cartoons it made of the Islamic prophet, Mohammed, prompting much soul-searching over the limits of free speech. This time, it has used images of a drowned Syrian toddler, Aylan Kurdi, whose death was a watershed moment for Europe’s refugee crisis.

A series of cartoons appeared in the latest issue that mocks Europe’s response to the crisis. In one cartoon, a child resembling Aylan lies face down near a promotional sign advertising a meal deal for children with the caption, “So close to making it.” The other cartoon shows a Jesus-like character walking on water—the joke being that Christians can float while “Muslim children sink.”

The response to the cartoons has largely been negative, with some threatening legal action. Those upset suggest the cartoons cheapen the death of Aylan and the thousands of other refugees who have drowned trying to seek asylum in Europe.

But others have pointed out many newspapers worldwide used those images to make a political point. Why can’t Charlie Hebdo?