‘Fascist’: Charlie Hebdo under fire for depicting drowned Syrian boy as pervert in Germany

© Eric Gaillard
A new caricature by Charlie Hebdo has landed the satirical magazine in hot water, as social media users have been outraged by a cartoon depicting a drowned 3-year old Syrian refugee as an adult carrying out sexual attacks in Germany.

The black-and-white cartoon has a small illustration of Aylan Kurdi lying face down on a Turkish beach, linking it to the infamous photo that touched the whole world in September. The image of little Aylan, who died along with his mother and brother on their way to Greece, has become a symbol of the refugee crisis.

In its caricature, Charlie Hebdo has now depicted the boy as an adult chasing two women with his hands stretched out. His face resembles that of an animal rather than a human being’s. Titled “Migrants,” the cartoon has an explanatory caption that reads: “What would little Aylan have grown up to be? A groper in Germany.”

The provocative image appears to be a satirical take on the unprecedented spate of attacks on women that took place on New Year’s Eve in the streets of Cologne, Germany. The attackers were mostly described as young men of Arab or North African descent, a fact that prompted some to call Germany’s welcome to refugees and open policy towards migrants into question. 

Charlie Hebdo’s Wednesday cartoon has failed to touch its readers, however, but rather triggered a wave of condemnation, as people have been accusing the magazine and its editors of racism. 

On Twitter, the image was called “disgusting,”“callous,” and fascist, just to give a few examples of people’s reactions. 


This is the second time Charlie Hebdo has drawn a caricature of 3-year old Aylan Kurdi. In September, the magazine, which has just recently marked one year since a deadly attack on its office in Paris, came up with a cartoon showing a drowned Kurdi on the beach. A McDonald’s billboard near his body reads “Two children’s menus for the price of one,” in reference to Kurdi and his brother. Its mocking caption reads: “So close”.

Charlie Hebdo was harshly criticized following its publication, with many beginning to question: “#JeSuisCharlie now?” – a hashtag that was started shortly after the terrorist attack on the magazine in January 2014, which was used as a sign of support for Charlie Hebdo’s team.

Supported by many in Russia in 2014, the sympathy fell away in October 2015, when the magazine published a caricature depicting the Russian A231 plane crash, which killed 224 people.

READ MORE: ‘Je ne suis PAS Charlie’: Russians respond to Hebdo plane crash caricatures with own drawings

That picture prompted Russian internet users to adopt the #JeNeSuisPasCharlie (“I am not Charlie”) hashtag.

On January 6, the magazine issued a commemorating issue with words on the cover reading: “One year on, the killer is still out there.”