The French satirical magazine’s new cover shows a cartoon of Queen Elizabeth pressing her knee against Meghan Markle’s neck
French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo has sparked outrage after publishing a controversial cover, which several social media users have slammed as racist and distasteful.
The cover shows a cartoon of the United Kingdom’s Queen Elizabeth pressing her knee against Meghan Markle’s neck, a reference to the death of George Floyd last year in the US, reports Al Jazeera.
The headline of the cartoon, published on Saturday, reads: "Why Meghan left Buckingham,” to which the Duchess of Sussex and the wife of Prince Harry, from underneath the Queen’s knee, replies, "because I couldn't breathe anymore."
The cartoon mimics the scene when George Floyd, a Black American, was killed by a Minneapolis police officer last May. Officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee against Floyd's neck for about nine minutes as the 46-year-old gasped for breath. Chauvin has been charged with third degree murder.
Floyd’s killing sparked a wave of Black Lives Matter protests across the United States against police brutality and racial injustice. Recently, Minneapolis agreed to pay $27 million to George Floyd's family to settle a lawsuit over this death in police custody.
The cartoon prompted widespread discussion on social media, with several users calling it offensive.
#CharlieHebdo, this is wrong on every level. The Queen as #GeorgeFloyd's murderer crushing Meghan's neck? #Meghan saying she's unable to breathe? This doesnt push boundaries, make anyone laugh or challenge #racism. It demeans the issues & causes offence, across the board. pic.twitter.com/ptNXs8RtuS— Dr Halima Begum (@Halima_Begum) March 13, 2021
Dr Halima Begum, CEO of the Runnymede Trust, a UK-based racial equality think-tank, said the cover was "wrong on every level."
"This doesn't push boundaries, make anyone laugh or challenge racism. It demeans the issues and causes offence, across the board," she tweeted.
Is this the free speech that Charlie Hebdo is so passionate about? Racism, disrespect and offence passed off as satire? I’m sorry but no Je suis for me. This is nothing but racist bigotry and inciting hate. Do better with your platform and grow up. pic.twitter.com/Id6hL53p2GMarch 13, 2021
In 2015, 11 people, including the top editor and some of its leading cartoonists, were killed after brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi attacked Charlie Hebdo's Paris headquarters after the magazine published controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Charlie Hebdo republished the cartoons last year.
Charlie Hebdo is a racist rag and has been for a very long time— Aurelien Mondon (@aurelmondon) March 13, 2021
Saying it does not mean condoning the 2015 attacks or being against free speech. It simply means being against racism
Ignoring it is being complicit and plays right in the hands of all those who seek to divide us
Aurelien Mondon, a senior lecturer in politics at the University of Bath, said the magazine “is a racist rag and has been for a very long time.”
Without wading too much into this Charlie Hebdo debate again, if you have to continually explain that your "satire" isn't racist & isn't punching down, then it isn't very good satire, it doesn't matter which tradition it comes from, French or otherwise.— Oz Katerji (@OzKaterji) March 13, 2021
Markle is biracial; her mother is Black and her father is white. After marrying in 2018, Markle and Prince Harry have stepped down from their royal duties are now living in California.
In an interview broadcast last week, Markle told Oprah Winfrey why she and Prince Harry stepped down from their royal duties. She accused an unnamed member of the royal family of making racist remarks, saying concerns were relayed to her husband about how dark her son Archie’s skin would be before his birth.
Buckingham Palace said in a statement this week the issues raised in the interview were “concerning” and that the royal family would deal with them privately. Earlier this week, Prince William defended the monarchy against accusations of racism, saying, "We're very much not a racist family."