Joe Sacco : On Satire – Response to the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

In our Contextual and Theoretical studies lessons last week we discussed the illustration strip Joe Sacco published in The Guardian newspaper on the 9th of January.


It is a quite long, though very thought-provoking article. Initially it left me puzzled as to whether he liked the magazine or not. He has clearly considered and even partly questioned his feelings towards the event, attempting to see reason. From listening to the news and national debates on the attack I have noticed that even though the overall decision is that terrorism is wrong, people still say that it was the magazines fault for provoking and blatantly insulting an entire religion.

A recent BBC News article states; {“In an op-ed piece in the paper [Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet], Turkish writer Mustafa Akyol calls on the Muslim world to ease its concept of blasphemy.

“Rage is a sign of nothing but immaturity,” he says. “The power of any faith comes not from its coercion of critics and dissenters. It comes from the moral integrity and the intellectual strength of its believers.”}

This made me think about other events where religion has been extreme, the Crusades for example. Will it end up to be ‘Muslim extremists Vs the World’ ? I really hope not!

Upon reading through the article a second time I was reminded of the two images that I didn’t understand.

joesaccoonsatire1200 copy joesaccoonsatire1200 copy2

I honestly couldn’t understand why he would use those specific drawings intending to insult (in a pretend way). I had to get my Mother to explain the culture from the past, the certain stereo types different races were given, I had no idea. Of course we were taught about racism and the slave trade, especially coming from Liverpool (a major part of the slave trade). However any phrases or stereo types were rarely talked about in our household, and when they came up they were quickly shunned so I understood it was wrong, but I never experienced the old stereo types my Mother grew up around.

Thinking upon it, I am glad, because this shows how far we have come in a generation. Though clearly discrimination will never cease entirely, as my Mother put it “We can change our minds all we like but unless we change our hearts people will always be that way.”

So I suppose what we’re seeing from Joe Sacco’s illustration are two striking questions.

Why does it seem to be only extremist Muslims that are offended?

To what point does a joke turn into hate?

I personally don’t feel like I am wise enough to answer either of these questions, though I will say, Joe Sacco has a very good point.


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