Safe Internet League asks General Prosecutor’s Office to check Charlie Hebdo cartoons for extremism


A letter asking the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation to check the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo’s caricatures on the Russian Airbus A321’s crash in the Sinai peninsula on October 31, 2015 for extremism and other inconsistencies with Russian legal norms has been submitted by the Safe Internet League.

‘These cartoons, widely distributed by the media and on the Internet, have caused an outrage among ordinary Russians, human rights activists, and politicians. It is entirely obvious that ethical and moral norms had been violated. We also ask you to check if these materials are in breach of Russian legal norms’ goes the letter, suggesting a list of norms these cartoons might be in breach of:

  • Federal law no. 149-FZ ‘On Information, Information Technologies, and Protection of Information’ (Article 10 ‘Dissemination of information or provision of access to information’);
  • Federal law no. 114-FZ ‘On Countering Extremist Activities’ (Article 8 ‘On prohibition of dissemination of extremist materials by mass media and commission of acts of extremism by mass media’);
  • Federal law no. 63-FZ (for elements of hate crime and/or violation of human dignity under Article 282 of the Criminal Code).
If found to contain extremist content, the cartoons in question will have to be banned from distribution in Russia, and URLs of Internet pages hosting them put on the official Russian Internet Blacklist.

It is to be recalled that the cartoons, originally published on November 6, 2015, address the tragic death of 224 passengers by way of two caricatures. One depicts an IS fighter covering under the debris of a plane falling on top of him. The caption reads: "ISIL: Russia steps up bombardment’. The other features a human skull wearing sunglasses, against the background of a crashed airliner. ‘The dangers of flying Russian low-costers. Wish I’d flown Air Cocaine instead’ reads the caption, referring to a scandal involving 600 kilos of cocaine found onboard one of the French planes.