Charlie Hebdo editor Stéphane Charbonnier says fight against racism replaced by fight against 'Islamophobia'

The editor said those who attacked the magazine for publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohamed were 'displaying support for radical Islam'

Luke Garratt
Thursday 16 April 2015 12:42 BST
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French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo's publisher, Stéphane Charbonnier, known as Charb, at the magazine's headquarters in Paris on 19 September 2012.
French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo's publisher, Stéphane Charbonnier, known as Charb, at the magazine's headquarters in Paris on 19 September 2012. (FRED DUFOUR/AFP/GettyImages)

The late editor of French magazine Charlie Hebdo has said that the fight against racism has turned into a fight against "Islamophobia", which defends Islam more than it defends Muslims.

The statements come from a posthumously published book entitled "Letter to the Islamophobia swindlers who play into the hands of racists”, completed only two days before he was killed in the attack on the offices of the satirical magazine on 5 January this year.

In the book Charb, whose real name is Stéphane Charbonnier, argued that "a lot of those who campaign against Islamophobia don't actually do it to defend Muslims as individuals, but to defend Prophet Mohamed's religion".

In one passage, he is critical of those who followed organised religion, especially those who follow the Koran to the letter, writing: “To be afraid of Islam is without a doubt moronic, absurd and many other things as well, but it’s not an offense.”

"The suggestion that you can laugh at everything, except certain aspects of Islam, because Muslims are much more prickly that the rest of the population - what is that, if not discrimination?"

He compared those who follow the Koran to the letter to “one who reads an instruction manual on how to assemble an Ikea shelf”.

A woman holds a placard reading 'Je suis Charlie' as she attends the funeral of French cartoonist and Charlie Hebdo editor Stephane 'Charb' Charbonnier, on 16 January 2015 in Pontoise, outside Paris.
A woman holds a placard reading 'Je suis Charlie' as she attends the funeral of French cartoonist and Charlie Hebdo editor Stephane 'Charb' Charbonnier, on 16 January 2015 in Pontoise, outside Paris. (DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)

He also slammed the media for popularising the term “Islamophobia”.

He claimed "any scandal that contains the word 'Islam' in its title sells", adding "A terrorist is scary, but if you add that he's an Islamist, everyone wets themselves”.

Defending the controversial activities of Charlie Hebdo, which has published cartoons of the Prophet Mohamed on several different occasions, he attacked the educated upper classes for accusing the magazine of going too far.

“It’s time to end this disgusting paternalism of the white, bourgeois, intellectual ‘left’ who seek to exist among the ‘unfortunate, under-educated poor’," he wrote.

"Those who accuse Charlie Hebdo's cartoonist of Islamophobia every time a figure in them has a beard are not only showing dishonesty or gratuitous bad faith, they are displaying support for so-called radical Islam.”

Extracts of the book will be appearing in the French weekly magazine L’Obs on Thursday.

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