French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo has sparked outrage on social media after it published a cartoon appearing to make light of the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that killed thousands in Turkey and Syria.
The drawing by artist Pierrick Juin showed teetering buildings amid heaps of rubble with the caption: “No need to send tanks.”
Social media users said the cartoon mocked the tragedy that impacted millions of people across two countries and called the drawing “disgusting”, “shameful”, “revolting” and akin to “hate speech”.
A woman by the name of Sara Assaf responded by saying that she was withdrawing her support for the magazine. “Je ne suis plus Charlie” (I am no longer Charlie), she wrote, in reference to the slogan “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie) adopted by supporters of the outlet after the January 7, 2015 attack on their office.
On that day, two brothers claiming affiliation to al-Qaeda opened fire at the Paris headquarters of the French satirical weekly, killing 12 people in retaliation for cartoon depictions of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.
The attack triggered a global outpouring of solidarity with France as well as a debate on what constituted free speech.
“We were with you during your pain. It’s a disaster for humanity what we’re now going through!” one user said, before concluding: “No, it’s not humour.”
American Muslim scholar Omar Suleiman said: “Mocking the death of thousands of Muslims is the peak of how France has dehumanized us in every way.”
Some users noted how Turks had staged marches of support after the 2015 attack, rallying behind the “Je suis Charlie” campaign, only to be repaid with what many saw as scorn.
Political analyst Öznur Küçüker Sirene addressed the magazine in a tweet. “Even the Turks were ‘Charlie Hebdo’ to share your grief and today you dare mock the suffering of an entire people. One must really have some nerve to do this while there are still babies waiting to be rescued underneath the rubble,” she said.
One user said the cartoon showcased the “true spirit” of Charlie Hebdo, while another said the “only source of income for this newspaper is Islamophobia”.
The comic strip even drew a reply from Ibrahim Kalin, a Turkish presidential spokesperson. “Modern barbarians!” he tweeted. “Suffocate in your hatred and grudges.”
Some Charlie Hebdo supporters attempted to defend the comic, calling it “satire” and needing “context”.