Representational image of a healthcare worker handling an oxygen cylinder | Photo: ThePrint
Representational image of a healthcare worker handling an oxygen cylinder | Photo: ThePrint
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New Delhi: Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical weekly magazine, has released a cartoon strongly critiquing India’s acute oxygen crisis amid the devastating second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.

Published on 28 April, the cartoon depicts Indians lying on the ground, gasping for oxygen. It also takes a dig at the multiple gods and goddesses in India, and how they have been unable to help the country’s plaguing oxygen crisis.

The accompanying catchphrase of the cartoon in French, reads: “33 million gods in India and not one capable of producing oxygen.”

The cartoon has been shared widely across Twitter to varying reactions. Some users have been offended by the inferences drawn, while others noted the truth to it.

Meanwhile, author Devdutt Pattanaik pointed out the irony of how Charlie Hebdo’s cartoon on Prophet Mohammad had found support among Hindu extremists, but they will be offended by this particular cartoon.

At present, India is experiencing a massive shortage of medical oxygen. Hospitals across the country have been consistently running out of oxygen cylinders, which has even led to deaths of some patients.

According to government data released on 8 May, at least 17 per cent of Covid patients hospitalised in India required medical oxygen and more than 1,37,000 people in the country are on oxygen support.

Also read: TN & Andhra SOS to PM, Kerala’s surplus stock over — Oxygen shortage now hits South India

Charlie Hebdo controversy

This is not the first time Charlie Hebdo has released a satirical take on religious sentiments.

Earlier, the magazine had courted widespread controversy after it published a series of 12 cartoons portraying Prophet Mohammad in offensive positions in 2006. In one of the cartoons, Prophet Mohammad was depicted wearing a bomb on his head with the words ‘All of that for this’ as the headline.

This had led to criticism of the cartoon across the world, especially among the Muslim community, since any form of visual depiction of the Prophet is forbidden in Islam and is considered blasphemous.

This had also led to a terror attack at Charlie Hebdo’s office in Paris in 2015. The office was attacked by two brothers named Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, French nationals of Algerian origin, who shot dead 12 members of the magazine.

In October 2020, a French middle-school history teacher Samuel Paty was killed at a suburb in Paris by a Chechen refugee for showing cartoons of Prophet Mohammad to his students.

Also read: Charlie Hebdo’s decision to republish Prophet Muhammad cartoons spark widespread protests


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