CHARLIE HEBDO and Iran
French Satirical Paper Targeted the Shah, Mad Mullahs
Jan. 7, PARIS, FRANCE—Machine-gun wielding terrorists today stormed the offices of long-running weekly French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, killing twelve individuals and injuring eleven others. Upon fleeing the carnage, the gunmen shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is great).
This was not the first time the publication has fallen victim to terrorism. In November 2011, Charlie Hebdo’s offices were fire-bombed in connection with their cartoon depictions of the prophet Muhammad. Ever since, death threats have forced their staff to hire bodyguards and live with the ever-present threat of further attacks. Indeed, these individuals, who were specifically targeted for assassination, have certainly proven their willingness to put their life at stake in order to uphold the right of free speech.
Founded in 1970 as a reincarnation of their predecessor Hara-Kiri Hebdo after it was banned, the outrageous, defiant left-wing political newspaper has always been an equal-opportunity offender. Among their favorite targets is religion, so the Catholic Church, devout Rabbis and Islamic fundamentalists have never been spared in their pages.
One of those murdered today was Georges Wolinski, an 80 year-old cartoonist of Polish-Jewish descent. Wolinski was actually the cartoonist who drew the publication’s first ever cover about Iran on October 18, 1971. “It was good of you to come”, the Shah tells “The King of Idiots”.
In a subsequent Wolinksi cover on January 6, 1975 reading “Shah of Iran: Bloody Excrement”, the Iranian dictator, notorious for repressing free speech in his country and having the opposition jailed or tortured, was drawn threatening to cancel trade with France if Charlie Hebdo was not immediately shut down.
“IRAN CONSTIPATED” was the cover of their November 21, 1979 issue, featuring the failing Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. It was drawn by Jean-Marc Reiser (1941-1983).
A “Fine example of optimism!” is illustrated on their December 5, 1979 cover "The Shah Plants A Tree", showing the sick, decrepid, exiled tyrant digging a hole in his pajamas, as he is cradled by an obese blonde nurse. “In 20 years, I shall have cherries!”, he says. The cover was drawn by Jean Cabut (1938-2015), better known as Cabu, the famed French cartoonist who was among those killed in the terrorist massacre.
After the revolution, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein attacked Iran, and the United States soon backed him up. Reiser’s September 24, 1980 cover shows a Frenchman happily watching the Iran-Iraq War on television exclaiming “Oh yes!, Oh yes!”. The headline asked, “WILL WE REMAIN SPECTATORS?”.
Yet perhaps the most relevant cover, again by the late Jean-Marc Reiser, is their November 14, 1979 issue depicting a mad mullah with an unenticing wager: “If I trigger a world war...I’ll shave my beard!”
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