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Famous Last Words: Charlie Hebdo Editor Spoke Out in 2013

Written by Gary North on January 9, 2015

The editor is no longer with us.

This is from The Los Angeles Times (March 27, 2013). Here was the headline: Editor of incendiary Charlie Hebdo magazine wants everyone to calm down

Editor of incendiary Charlie Hebdo magazine wants everyone to calm down
In fact, says France’s Stephane Charbonnier, that’s the whole point of his mockery of Islam and Muhammad: to ‘trivialize’ them in culture so the violent outrage fades. Critics say it’s actually about making money.

Stephane Charbonnier, known as Charb, is the editor of the left-leaning satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, which since 2006 has been sued, threatened and firebombed for its sporadic publication of cartoons mocking the Muslim prophet Muhammad. . . .

PARIS — Stephane Charbonnier, known as Charb, sits calmly behind a desk in a large, messy office with no sign outside indicating the name of his publication. True, there is a riot police car stationed in the street, but basically, he says, he doesn’t see what all the fuss is about.

“It just so happens I’m more likely to get run over by a bicycle in Paris than get assassinated,” says Charb, the soft-spoken editor of Charlie Hebdo, a left-leaning French satirical weekly, which since 2006 has been sued, threatened and firebombed for its sporadic publication of cartoons mocking the Muslim prophet Muhammad.

None of this deters Charb, who in January published a special comic book edition, “The Life of Muhammad.”

The potential consequences of printing outrageous and sexually explicit drawings involving Islam’s revered prophet just don’t seem like a big deal to the 45-year-old cartoonist, who says he started drawing because it was a way for a shy child to express himself.

The threats from Islamic extremists “come from a very small minority that doesn’t necessarily have the means to act,” he says. “If one person is injured or killed, it doesn’t mean all of France will be put on its knees.

“It’s not Islam attacking France, it’s one person attacking another person, that’s all.” . . .

Some of the controversial issues featuring Muhammad caricatures have included drawings of violence, sex and nudity, often in the style of a child’s sketch — material clearly intended to attract attention and controversy.

A 2011 issue “edited” by the Muslim prophet showed a long-nosed, bearded and turbaned Muhammad warning on the cover, “100 lashes if you don’t die laughing.”

The issue then illustrated the “advantages” of so-called watered-down sharia, or Islamic law. Examples included a bearded man in a skullcap promoting “less visible polygamy” by way of marrying three burka-clad dwarfs.

A style section shows women getting their nails done on severed hands. The edition on the life of Muhammad doesn’t focus on Islamic extremism; instead it spoofs him with illustrations related to original Islamic texts about his life.

Nobody has tried to hurt Charb or bomb or even sue the publication since that edition.

He talked a good liberal line. But his public confidence was bluster — a complete sham. It targeted the rubes: liberals.  “We’re all liberals here in France.” No, they aren’t. In private, he tried to stay alive.  He knew he risked being killed, and he knew full well why. He tried to avoid it. He failed. He took his staff with him.

In 2006, the magazine republished an infamous Danish cartoon depicting the prophet Mohammed in a special issue. The magazine sold 400,000 copies, but was besieged by threats.

Rather than avoiding the controversial topic, the magazine published a special issue in 2011 with caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed, including one cartoon on its cover. The offices were later firebombed, but no employee was killed in that attack.

In 2012, the magazine again drew attention for publishing more cartoons of Mohammed, drawing angry rebukes from some in the Muslim community.

Police protection had been ordered at the magazine’s offices according to the French President Francois Hollande, but it appeared unable to stop today’s attackers, who were captured on video shouting “Allahu Akbar.” At least two police officers were killed in the attack.

Some of those killed had a long history at the magazine, including the cartoonist Cabu.

But today’s attack took the lives of some of the magazine’s long-time contributors, including Cabu, who had worked with the magazine since its first iteration, according to the magazine’s website.

Stephan Charbonnier, the magazine’s editor and also a cartoonist, had received death threats and lived under police protection, according to The Guardian newspaper.

Known as Charb, the editor had been with the magazine since 1992. Both Charbonnier and one of his bodyguards were killed in the attack.

(For the rest of the Los Angeles Times interview, click the link.)

Continue Reading on articles.latimes.com

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