Charlie Hebdo cover suggests Hurricane Harvey victims are neo-Nazis

People make their way out of a flooded neighborhood after it was inundated with rain water following Hurricane Harvey
People make their way out of a flooded neighborhood after it was inundated with rain water following Hurricane Harvey

The French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo relishes controversy, often seeming to invite offense with its provocative cover art.

One 2010 cover illustration showed a Muslim woman running naked, a burqa stuffed up her backside. "Wear the burqa," the caption read, "on the inside." Another showed the prophet Muhammad weeping because he was "overwhelmed by fundamentalists." A June cover depicted British Prime Minister Theresa May decapitated.

The newspaper's latest issue takes aim at a new target: the victims of the catastrophic Hurricane Harvey, which hit Texas on Friday, killing at least 35 people, displacing thousands and causing billions of dollars in damage.

The art on the Charlie Hebdo cover shows swastika flags and hands raised in what looks like Nazi salutes poking out above floodwaters. The text reads: "God exists! He drowned all the neo-Nazis of Texas." The illustration is an apparent reference to Texans' support of Donald Trump, who won 52.6 percent of the state's vote in the presidential election.

The cartoon drew swift outcry on social media. National Review writer Tiana Lowe called it "evil" and "despicable," but she added that "the losers at Charlie Hebdo have a God-given right to publish it, & no one has the right to shoot them."

The front cover of the often controverisal magazine depicting victims of Hurricane Harvey flood victims

Charlie Hebdo often pokes fun at government and religion, and Islam is a frequent target. One recent cover depicted victims who had been mowed down on a street, a reference to the terrorist attack this month in Barcelona in which a man drove a vehicle into a crowd, killing at least 15 people. The cover line read "Islam: religion of peace . . . eternal."

Another cover showed the prophet Muhammad - a taboo for adherents - in a direct response to the assassination of four cartoonists who had insulted Islam. In 2014, a cover depicted an Islamist militant decapitating Muhammad, who is saying, "I'm the prophet, idiot."

The publication has suffered tragedy for its irreverence: In 2015, two gunmen opened fire on Charlie Hebdo staff members at their Paris offices, killing 12 people.

But the satirical newspaper was not the only media outlet to take aim at Texas victims over political views.

Politico cartoonist Matt Wuerker came under fire for a cartoon that mocked Texans as hypocritical. The illustration showed a Texan in a shirt sporting the Confederate flag being lifted from the roof of a flooded house. On the roof is a sign reading "secede." The man celebrates the rescue as "Angels! Sent by God!" The punchline: "Er, actually Coast Guard . . . sent by the government."

Our colleagues at The Washington Post's The Fix called the illustration tone-deaf, writing that "people are still being saved, and it's making fun of those same people."

And on Tuesday, a University of Tampa professor was fired after he tweeted: "I don't believe in instant Karma but this kinda feels like it for Texas. Hopefully this will help them realize the GOP doesn't care about them."

School officials condemned the comments as "irresponsible."

Washington Post

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