It Wasn’t Charlie Hebdo That Did The Mediterranean Drowning Cartoon After All

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Some few days back, the good people at Charlie Hebdo were wrongly credited for a magazine cartoon ‘mocking’ Africans that drowned in the Mediterranean.

It is easy to see where the confusion comes from, though, as the cartoonist responsible for the art now works for Charlie Hebdo. The cartoonist is an Algerian, Ali Dilem, but the cartoon was published by Liberte in Algeria.


And even at that, the cartoon might have been misinterpreted. Homo economicus’ Weblog explains that “Regroupement Familial” – the words on the cartoon which literally mean “Family Reunion” – is the title of the French immigration policy for non-EU residents in France being joined by other family members from abroad. This requires 18 month initial stay (12 if Algerian) before they can come, income status etc. You can read about the policy in a English google translation here.

The cartoon is saying that the policy is contributing to deaths in the mediterranean by families desperate to be reunited.

Ironically, Charlie Hebdo has actually done a magazine cartoon which condemns Europe over their inaction over the thousands of African migrants dying in the Mediterranean monthly.

Charlie Hebdo



King is a writer and guitarist. He is an opinionated, multi talented individual with love for music and everything it concerns


  1. My question is still why do both cartoons feature golliwog-like caricatures of Africans? Even if these magazines are critiquing policies that lead to the deaths of Africans, why do they dehumanize those very Africans in the process?

    1. I’m not a Charlie reader so I may be wrong but my impression is that they want to criticize the right while simultaneously avoiding what they see as liberal sanctimony. Sort of in the spirit of 60s left-radicalism in general which tended toward irreverence even its serious-minded critiques of power. Is it having its cake and eating it too? Defeating its own purpose? Does it play differently in a French context than an American? Not really sure on all counts (though I tend to think “yes” on the first two – in addition to the fact that it’s telling they seem more interested in addressing middle-class liberal sensibilities, even to tweak them, than, say, the migrants depicted in the illustration). At any rate their use of caricature seems to be in the self-conscious South Park/R. Crumb tradition for whatever that’s worth. With the difference that they do want to take a stand, in a way that does not compromise their sense of irreverence.

    2. Do you even realise that those cartoons are standing for african migrants???? Did you see the other cartoons. There’s a french / belgian tradiction of cartoons which is not the american one, but yeah how could you know?

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