Charlie Hebdo published a provocative front cover in reaction to the vehicle-ramming attack in Barcelona last Thursday, sarcastically calling Islam a “religion of peace.”
The magazine’s artwork shows a white van in the background with two cross-eyed, bloodied bodies lying motionless on the floor. The words read, “Islam, the religion of eternal peace.” Most of those implicated in the Barcelona vehicle-ramming attack and a second attack in the Catalonian town of Cambrils were Moroccan-born Muslims.
The magazine’s editor, Laurent “Riss” Sourisseau, justified the decision in an editorial, saying that the publication was sending a message that the French elite were too scared to communicate.
“The debates and questions about the role of religion, and in particular the role of Islam, in these attacks have completely disappeared,” he wrote.
Critics said the art risked exacerbating Islamophobia, and alienating more moderate Muslims who are not involved in extremist activity. A former Socialist minister, Stéphane Le Foll, said the cover was “extremely dangerous” because of the message it sent to others about all forms of Islam.
“When you’re a journalist you need to exercise restraint because making these associations can be used by other people,” he said in a tweet.