• Je Suis Charlie •

French Satirical Paper Targeted the Shah, Mad Mullahs

Arash Norouzi

The Mossadegh Project | January 7, 2015                    

CHARLIE HEBDO specil Sharia law issue — November 2, 2011 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.

LE SHAH AU ROI DES CONS: "Vouz avez bien fait de venir" — October 18, 1971 issue of Charlie Hebdo Ordure Sanglante: "Saisissez ce journal ou j’ annule touts me commandes!" — January 6, 1975 issue of Charlie Hebdo 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).

L’Iran Constipe: Le Chah Fait Bouchon — Charlie Hedbo cover on November 21, 1979   Le Shah Plante Un Arbre — "Dans 20 ans, j’ aurai des cerises" — Charlie Hedbo cover on December 5, 1979

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.

Le père noël fonce à panama: "J’ai un cadeau pour le shah d’Iran" — Charlie Hebdo cover on December 19, 1979   Allons-nous rester spectateurs? — Charlie Hebdo cover about the Iran – Iraq War on September 24, 1980

On their December 19, 1979 cover by Reiser, Santa Claus carries an armed mullah (Khomeini?) on his back, saying woefully “I have a gift for the Shah of Iran”.

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!”

Our condolences to the victims •

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Related links:

Tofigh — Iran’s Premier Satire Publication

Ayatollah Kashani’s Threat to Mossadegh | CIA Reports, Sept. 1952

Secret 1962 U.S. Memo Plots Ways To Sustain the Shah’s Rule (Or Not)

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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