Four months after the Paris office of the French satire magazine was attacked by two gunmen, leaving 11 dead, Charlie Hebdo has plunged into deeper crisis. Its leading cartoonist, Luz, who designed the Muhammad cartoon for its comeback edition, has announced he is quitting the magazine.
In an interview to French daily, Liberation, Luz confirmed rumours about his decision to quit later this year. The cartoonist, who is an icon of sorts in France, declared that news “doesn’t interest me any longer” and says he is suffering from an anxiety, “the fear of being bad” (at what he does). He said the killing of his fellow cartoonists had given him insomnia. With eight members of the core team assassinated, including their most prominent cartoonists, the work load on him had increased. Luz said each edition led to “torture” even though he continued in solidarity, it was difficult for him to work because like the rest of the Charlie Hebdo team he is “devoured” by “grief, pain and anger”.
“I shall no longer be Charlie but I will always be Charlie,” he added, making a reference to the slogan “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie) that caught on with the magazine’s supporters in France and the world over.
Earlier this week, another controversy broke when the magazine took disciplinary action against its Franco-Moroccon journalist, Zineb El Rhazoui. In a letter, the management said it had tried to remind her of work obligations. Rhazoui told French media that she was “shocked” and revealed that she and her husband had received death threats.
The journalist said she is in hiding and like her other colleagues found it hard to work in the “chaos” and under constant police protection. The magazine has since retracted its decision to take action against Rhazoui. She was part of the group of 15 (out of 20) employees who wrote an open letter to the management asking for an equal share of ownership of the satirical journal.