Electronic Intifada

It may sound like an ironic joke, but it isn’t. Less than a week after the massive rallies in defense of “free expression,” following the murders of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, French authorities have jailed a youth for irony.

The arrest is part of a harsh crackdown on free speech in the country that has prompted criticism from national and international human rights organizations.

A 16-year-old high school student was taken into police custody on Thursday and indicted for “defending terrorism,” national broadcaster France 3 reports.

His alleged crime? He posted on Facebook a cartoon “representing a person holding the magazine Charlie Hebdo, being hit by bullets, and accompanied by an ‘ironic’ comment,” France 3 states.

The report does not include the drawing – presumably that could put France 3 afoul of the law. So we do not know for sure what the youth is accused of sharing.

But the cartoon at the top of this page fits the description precisely. It was widely shared on social media, and published on 7 January on the website of the controversial French comedian Dieudonné. It is a mock Charlie Hebdo cover by the cartoonist Dedko.

The text says “Charlie Hebdo is shit. It does not stop bullets.” It appears quite heartless and cruel, but look at the copy of Charlie Hebdo that the person in the cartoon is holding.

It represents a real Charlie Hebdo cover that was published in July 2013, days after the military coup in Egypt. It caused outrage at the time because of its cruelty and insensitivity.

It shows an Egyptian protestor being shot through a copy of the Quran he is holding. The text says, “The Quran is shit, it doesn’t stop bullets.”

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