I’m no fan of Charlie Hebdo. The magazine’s raw satire isn’t something I would particularly seek out to comment on but, of course, that doesn’t stop it from making headlines, does it? Once again the magazine is under fire for its latest take on the Middle East refugee crisis and the West’s response to it. 

A week after the anniversary of the deadly attacks on the magazine that left 12 of its artists dead, Charlie Hebdo published a cartoon, titled ‘Migrants’, depicting ape-like men chasing screaming women; an insert at the top corner shows baby Aylan Kurdi lying face-down on the beach. The caption of the cartoon reads: What would have little Aylan grown up to be? A groper in Germany.

Of course, it didn’t sit well with many. Social media boiled over calling the cartoon racist, rude, disgusting and more. The obvious connotation that all refugees are rapists is totally something to be outraged about.

However, satire in essence isn’t something that’s obvious and/or humorous but rather something that is implied and ironic, leaving it to the audience to take away from it what they will. And this is where I see more sense in the argument that Charlie Hebdo’s dark humor is not mocking the refugees but totally mocking the sentiment that stereotypes all refugees as rapists. As heinous as the sex attacks in Cologne, Germany were, refugees aren’t the ones to introduce rape culture to the West. The West has known it for as long as the West itself has existed. To blame all refugees for the crimes of a handful is again making a very sweeping, extremely generalized statement.

The reason why I see more sense in not being offended by this particular cartoon is because of a conversation I recently had with another social media user. A Trump supporter, he was very irked by the fact that news of his dear leader being used as a poster boy for Al-Shabaab in their latest recruitment ad were being widely shared and spread. He didn’t agree with the narrative that Trump’s rhetoric is feeding into the terrorists’ narrative that the West wants to kick Muslims out, which they use to recruit more disillusioned individuals. According to him, terrorists could say whatever they wanted to about the West because “since when do we believe what the terrorists have to say?”

Exactly. Since when do we believe what the terrorists have to say? That last line made more sense than he probably had intended it to. I told him I was glad he said that and I hoped he would remember it while listening to rhetoric that all Muslims are bad because of what a handful of people claiming to follow Islam have done.Without engaging in a lengthy and possibly futile argument, I took his own words and tried to make him see the other side of the picture.

I think that’s what Charlie Hebdo has done here with Aylan Kurdi’s image and the recent refugee-related sex attacks. It has taken the image most cried over and revered and promoted by the West itself, calling out to humanity, embracing people displaced by the same enemy the West claims to be fighting, and slapped it over the same West that is now stereotyping the same refugees it allowed because of that iconic image, made iconic by the West itself.

The question the cartoon asks is sharp and the reply is even bitterer. And if it’s making you cringe then it has done its job. Think of it this way, you’re someone who wants to ban all refugees, turn away from their plight because when you hear the word ‘refugee’, you see grown foreign looking men without family and morals who are here to wreck your land and values. But Charlie wants you to picture Aylan, too. It wants you to see him too as one of the refugees and then ask yourself, what would a 3-year old who, had he survived, might’ve grown in a healthy environment, learnt good things, been somebody useful to society, be like?

If your answer is similar to the one that Charlie Hebdo stated, then, you’re the one who is racist. Charlie is simply identifying you as one.