Charlie Hebdo

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Charlie Hebdo
Logo of the weekly Charlie Hebdo
Type Weekly satirical
news magazine
Format Magazine
Editor Charb
Founded 1969, 1992
Political alignment Left-wing
Headquarters Paris, France
Circulation 45,000
ISSN 1240-0068

Charlie Hebdo (French pronunciation: ​[ʃaʁli ɛbdo]; French for Charlie Weekly) is a French satirical weekly newspaper, featuring cartoons, reports, polemics and jokes. Irreverent and stridently non-conformist in tone, the publication is strongly antireligious[1] and left-wing, publishing articles on the extreme right, Catholicism, Islam, Judaism, politics, culture, etc. According to its editor, Charb, the magazine's editorial viewpoint reflects "all components of left wing pluralism, and even abstainers".[2]

It first appeared from 1969 to 1981; it folded, but was resurrected in 1992. As of 2012 the editor is Charb (Stephane Charbonnier). His predecessors are François Cavanna (1969–1981) and Philippe Val (1992–2009).

The magazine is published every Wednesday, with special editions issued on an unscheduled basis.


François Cavanna, one of the founders of Charlie Hebdo

In 1960, Georges "Professeur Choron" Bernier and François Cavanna launched a monthly magazine entitled Hara-Kiri. Choron acted as the director of publication and Cavanna as its editor. Eventually Cavanna gathered together a team which included Roland Topor, Fred, Jean-Marc Reiser, Georges Wolinski, Gébé (fr), and Cabu. After an early reader's letter accused them of being "dumb and nasty" ("bête et méchant"), the phrase became an official slogan for the magazine and made it into everyday language in France.


In 1969, the Hara-Kiri team decided to produce a weekly publication - on top of the existing monthly magazine - which would focus more on current affairs. This was launched in February as Hara-Kiri Hebdo and renamed L'Hebdo Hara-Kiri in May of the same year.

In November 1970, the former French president Charles de Gaulle died in his home village of Colombey-les-Deux-Églises, eight days after a disaster in a nightclub, the Club Cinq-Sept fire caused the death of 146 people. The magazine released a cover spoofing the popular press's coverage of this disaster, headlined "Tragic Ball at Colombey, one dead." As a result, the journal was once more banned, this time by the Minister of the Interior.

In order to sidestep the ban, the team decided to change its title, and used Charlie Hebdo. The new name was derived from a monthly comics magazine called Charlie Mensuel (Charlie Monthly), which had been started by Bernier and Delfeil de Ton in 1968. Charlie took its name from Charlie Brown, the lead character of Peanuts - one of the comics originally published in Charlie Mensuel - and was also an inside joke about Charles de Gaulle.[3] In December 1981, publication ceased, owing to a lack of readers.[citation needed]


In 1991, Gébé, Cabu and others were reunited to work for La Grosse Bertha, a new weekly magazine resembling Charlie created in reaction to the Gulf War and edited by comic singer Philippe Val. However, the following year, Val clashed with the publisher, who wanted apolitical mischief, and was fired. Gébé and Cabu walked out with him and decided to launch their own paper again. The three called upon Cavanna, Delfeil de Ton and Wolinski, requesting their help and input. After much searching for a new name, the obvious idea of resurrecting Charlie-Hebdo was agreed on. The new magazine was owned by Val, Gébé, Cabu and singer Renaud Séchan. Val was editor, Gébé artistic director.

The publication of the new Charlie Hebdo began in July 1992 amidst much publicity. The first issue under the new publication sold 100,000 copies.

Choron, who had fallen out with his former colleagues, tried to restart a weekly Hara-Kiri, but its publication was short-lived. Choron died in January 2005.

In 2000, journalist Mona Chollet was sacked after she had protested against a Philippe Val article which called Palestinians "non-civilized".[4]

In 2004, following the death of Gébé, Val succeeded him as director of the publication, while still holding his position as editor.

Controversy arose over the publication's February 9, 2006 edition. Under the title "Mahomet débordé par les intégristes" ("Muhammad overwhelmed by fundamentalists"), the front page showed a cartoon of a weeping Prophet Muhammad saying "C'est dur d'être aimé par des cons" ("it's hard being loved by jerks"). The newspaper reprinted the twelve cartoons of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy and added some of their own. Compared to a regular circulation of 100,000 sold copies, this edition enjoyed great commercial success. 160,000 copies were sold and another 150,000 were in print later that day.

In response, French President Jacques Chirac condemned "overt provocations" which could inflame passions. "Anything that can hurt the convictions of someone else, in particular religious convictions, should be avoided", Chirac said. The Grand Mosque, the Muslim World League and the Union of French Islamic Organisations (UOIF) sued, claiming the cartoon edition included racist cartoons.[5]

A later edition contained a statement by a group of 12 writers warning against Islamism (Islamic totalitarianism).[6]

The suit by the Grand Mosque and the UOIF reached the courts in February 2007. Publisher Philippe Val contended "It is racist to imagine that they can't understand a joke" but Francis Szpiner, the lawyer for the Grand Mosque, explained the suit: "Two of those caricatures make a link between Muslims and Muslim terrorists. That has a name and it's called racism."[7]

Future president Nicolas Sarkozy sent a letter to be read in court expressing his support for the ancient French tradition of satire.[8] François Bayrou and future president François Hollande also expressed their support for freedom of expression. The French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) criticized the expression of these sentiments, claiming they were politicizing a court case.[9]

On March 22, 2007, executive editor Philippe Val was acquitted by the court.[10] The court followed the state attorney's reasoning that two of the three cartoons were not an attack on Islam, but on Muslim terrorists, and that the third cartoon with Mohammed with a bomb in his turban should be seen in the context of the magazine in question which attacked religious fundamentalism.

In 2008, controversy broke over a column by veteran cartoonist Siné led to accusations of antisemitism and Siné's sacking by Val. Siné sued the newspaper for unfair dismissal and Charlie Hebdo was sentenced to pay him 90,000 euros in damages.[11] Siné launched a rival paper called Siné Hebdo which later became Siné Mensuel. Charlie Hebdo launched its Internet site, after years of reluctance[citation needed] from Val.

In 2009, Philippe Val resigned after being appointed director of France Inter, a public radio station to which he has contributed since the early 1990s. His functions were split between two cartoonists, Charb (Stéphane Charbonnier) and Riss (Laurent Sourisseau). Val gave away his shares in 2011.[citation needed]


The paper's controversial 3 November 2011 issue, renamed "Charia Hebdo" and "guest-edited" by Muhammad. He is depicted saying: "100 lashes of the whip if you don't die laughing."
New head office Rue Serpollet (fr) in Paris
Debris outside the paper's offices following the November 2011 attack

In the early hours of November 2, 2011, the newspaper's office in the 20th arrondissement[12] was fire-bombed and its website hacked. The attacks were presumed linked to its decision to rename a special edition "Charia Hebdo", with the Islamic Prophet Mohammed listed as the "editor-in-chief".[13] The cover, featuring a cartoon of Mohammed by Luz (Renald Luzier), had circulated on social media for a couple of days.

Charb was quoted by AP stating that the attack might have been carried out by "stupid people who don't know what Islam is" and that they are "idiots who betray their own religion". Mohammed Moussaoui, head of the French Council of the Muslim Faith, said his organisation deplores "the very mocking tone of the paper toward Islam and its prophet but reaffirms with force its total opposition to all acts and all forms of violence."[14] François Fillon, the prime minister, and Claude Guéant, the interior minister, voiced support for Charlie Hebdo,[12] as did feminist writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who criticised calls for self-censorship.[15]

In September 2012, the newspaper published a series of satirical cartoons of Mohammed, some of which feature nude caricatures of him.[16][17] Given that this came days after a series of attacks on U.S. embassies in the Middle East, purportedly in response to the anti-Islamic film Innocence of Muslims, the French government decided to increase security at certain French embassies, as well as to close the French embassies, consulates, cultural centers, and international schools in about 20 Muslim countries.[18] In addition, riot police surrounded the offices of the magazine to protect against possible attacks.[17][19][20]

Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius criticised the magazine's decision, saying, "In France, there is a principle of freedom of expression, which should not be undermined. In the present context, given this absurd video that has been aired, strong emotions have been awakened in many Muslim countries. Is it really sensible or intelligent to pour oil on the fire?"[21] However, the newspaper's editor defended publication of the cartoons, saying, "We do caricatures of everyone, and above all every week, and when we do it with the Prophet, it's called provocation."[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Charb. "Non, "Charlie Hebdo" n’est pas raciste !". Le Monde. Retrieved 4 March 2014. 
  2. ^ «Charlie Hebdo, c'est la gauche plurielle» [archive] sur du 9 avril 2010
  3. ^ Cavanna et "les cons", Le Monde, 14 February 2014
  4. ^ L’opinion du patron, Les Mots Sont Importants, 4 March 2006.
  5. ^ "Caricatures : Charlie Hebdo relaxé : CFCM Tv – Culte Musulman et Islam de France – HAJJ 2012 – Halal". 2007-03-22. Retrieved 2011-12-21. 
  6. ^ "Writers' statement on cartoons (March 1, 2006)". BBC News. 2006-03-01. Retrieved 2011-12-21. 
  7. ^ Heneghan, Tom, "Cartoon row goes to French court", IOL, February 2, 2007 at 06:37pm.
  8. ^ e-TF1 (2011-12-15). "Caricatures : Le soutien de Sarkozy à Charlie Hebdo fâche le CFCM - France - TF1 News". Retrieved 2011-12-21. 
  9. ^ "Charlie Hebdo : Sarkozy accusé de politiser le procès - L'EXPRESS". Retrieved 2011-12-21. 
  10. ^ "French cartoons editor acquitted", BBC, 22 March 2007 14:33 GMT.
  11. ^ Charlie Hebdo doit verser 90 000 euros à Siné, Libération, 17 December 2012.
  12. ^ a b Boxel, James (November 2, 2011). "Firebomb attack on satirical French magazine". Financial Times. Retrieved 2012-09-19. 
  13. ^ "BBC News: Attack on French satirical paper Charlie Hebdo (November 2, 2011)". 2011-11-02. Retrieved 2011-12-21. 
  14. ^ AP via Google.
  15. ^ Peter Worthington (9 November 2011). "Extremists hurt non-militant Muslims the most". Toronto Sun. QMI. 
  16. ^ "Charlie Hebdo publie des caricatures de Mahomet". BMFTV (French) Retrieved 19 September 2012.
  17. ^ a b Vinocur, Nicholas (September 19, 2012). "Magazine’s nude Mohammad cartoons prompt France to shut embassies, schools in 20 countries". Reuters. The National Post. Retrieved September 19, 2012. 
  18. ^ Samuel, Henry (19 September 2012). "France to close schools and embassies fearing Mohammed cartoon reaction". The Telegraph. Retrieved 20 September 2012. 
  19. ^ Khazan, Olga (September 19, 2012). "Charlie Hebdo cartoons spark debate over free speech and Islamophobia". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 19, 2012. 
  20. ^ Keller, Greg; Hinnant, Lori (September 19, 2012). "Charlie Charlie Hebdo Mohammed Cartoons: France Ups Embassy Security After Prophet Cartoons". The Huffington Post. Retrieved September 19, 2012. 
  21. ^ Clark, Nicola (September 19, 2012). "French Magazine Publishes Cartoons Mocking Muhammad". The New York Times. Retrieved September 19, 2012. 
  22. ^ "French leaders sound alarm over planned Mohammad cartoons". Reuters. September 18, 2012. Retrieved 2012-09-18. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]