German magazine next in line with a Mohammed caricature
The France24 news service decided to ask French expatriates around the Middle East what they think of Charlie Hebdo magazine’s decision to publish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, an event which prompted France to order “the closure of its embassies, schools, and embassies Friday in 20 countries, mostly in the Muslim world.” I’m not sure if this is a typo, or if France closed all of its embassies twice. Also, it’s sobering to note that the shuttered embassies are “mostly” in the Muslim world.
The first response related by France24 came from the manager of a French supermarket in Cairo, who said, “If someone in the street asks me what nationality I am, I will say I’m German.”
Ha! Nice try, Monsieur! But that won’t work anymore in a few days, when German satire magazine Titanic is set to “jump into the fray with an Islam issue of its own,” as reported by Der Spiegel. The cover will depict someone who might just be Mohammed, swinging a sword, in close proximity to former German first lady Bettina Wulff. One of those individuals will prove to be much easier to satirize than the other.
Supposedly this cover is meant as more of an insult to Wulff, whom Titanic wishes to slander by suggesting that she “might also try to attract support with cheap criticism of Islam,” according to editor Leo Fischer. Fischer says his magazine finds that “objectionable,” even though I can’t find any news report of Bettina Wulff doing any such thing. So Fischer thinks it’s objectionable that Wullf might conceivably do what he himself is about to do, because she’s a shameless attention-seeker. German humor is subtle.
Fischer offers some similarly confusing, possibly ill-translated thoughts on the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, which he says are “simplistic,” but a “relatively peaceful and harmless reaction” to the Islamic riots gripping the Middle East. I think we can all get behind Fischer here, since drawing a cartoon is definitely peaceful and harmless relative to trashing embassies and killing people.
More unusual is his opinion that “if satire simply attracts extremists in a vacuum, then it is right-wing satire.” Who knew Chris Matthews was right-wing satire?
Fischer is optimistic that his little jape will be well-received. “I consider the view that European Muslims are nothing more than sword-swinging crazies to be racist,” he told Der Spiegel. “I am relying on their understanding – and on their indifference.” But if this issue results in “new subscribers among Muslim satire fans, I would have nothing against it.”
As a capitalism-loving American, I salute his efforts to explore the hitherto untapped marketplace of Muslim satire fans.