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‘No deaths – no irony?’ French satirical mag ‘hypocritical’ for cartoon on Notre Dame fire

‘No deaths – no irony?’ French satirical mag ‘hypocritical’ for cartoon on Notre Dame fire
Controversial satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was slammed after it ran a cartoon depicting the Notre Dame de Paris fire. Critics said it was surprisingly tame compared to the many times it joked about deadly disasters abroad.

The latest cover shows a grinning French President Emmanuel Macron whose head is shaped like the facade of the iconic Gothic church engulfed in flames. The issue hit the shelves on Tuesday – one day after Notre Dame Cathedral was partially destroyed in a heavy fire, with its spire and roof collapsing.

The word “Reforms” was written on the cover, along with the grotesquely-depicted Macron saying: “I’ll start from the frame.” It was a reference to a set of measures the president was due to announce in a televised address that day but had to promptly cancel due to the fire.

Some commentators on social media were not amused by Charlie Hebdo’s latest cartoon.

“I love your paper. I read it almost every week, but for once it doesn’t make me laugh,” a French-speaking user wrote.

Particular ire came from Italians who believed the cartoon was too tame compared to more crass caricatures it ran which ‘satirized’ tragic events on Italian soil that, unlike the Notre Dame fire, claimed multiple lives. Among those were the deadly earthquake in 2016 (299 people killed and thousands left homeless), an avalanche in 2017 (29 killed), and the collapse of a high bridge in Genoa last August (43 killed).

“Hypocrites… Where is the irony and humor now?” one person from Milan wrote.

“A pity there were no deaths [in Notre Dame], eh? You could have come up with a much better irony. That’s Italian sarcasm,” another user said, while others sarcastically agreed that the magazine could have “done a much better job” mocking the burning cathedral.

“You didn’t find humor for this rubble? For the people who died in the earthquake you did,” an Italian commentator noted, referring to the way Charlie Hebdo compared the hundreds of Italians killed by the quake to pasta and lasagna.

“Deep and sincere pain for the great monument lost, but for you – only contempt,” another added.

Others replied to the magazine with the same dark humor the publication routinely uses. “Excuse me, Charlie, do you have a light? I’m in Italy, and want a smoke after coffee,” a user wrote.

Not everyone had an issue with the cover, though. “I don’t like this type of humor, but as long as it’s not hateful, why not?” a French-speaking commentator suggested, while another thanked Charlie Hebdo for “making me laugh, despite the great sadness I feel.”

Some found the choice of metaphor befitting the current state of affairs in France, where President Macron and other politicians are “burning down” the nation’s public services and its heritage.

Charlie Hebdo is known for mocking politicians and other public figures, but also regularly draws criticism for publishing cartoons on religion, various disasters and terrorist acts, both at home and abroad. In 2015, two Islamist gunmen stormed the magazine’s office in Paris, killing 12 people inside, including some of its prominent cartoonists. The attack happened after the magazine ran caricatures on Islam

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