French publication Charlie Hebdo has come out with a controversial cartoon once more. This time, their satirical cover features Argentine footballer Lionel Messi intertwined with the current crisis in Afghanistan.
In the magazine's latest cover, three women wearing blue burkas are seen with Messi's name and the number 30 printed on them. The caption reads "The Taliban, they are worse than you think."
Messi has just been presented as a Paris Saint-Germain player, where he will be wearing the number 30 shirt. There is no doubt that the cartoon is meant to highlight the ties between the six-time Ballon d'Or winner's new club and the Islamic world.
PSG is a state-owned club, with funding coming in from the Emir of Qatar. Incidentally, Qatar has also been accused of financing Islamic terrorism. The country's hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup has also been under fire due to a history of human rights abuses.
The exact relationship between the Taliban and Qatar is unclear of course, but Charlie Hebdo wants to shine a light on the situation. Messi has been thrown into the fray, as he will no doubt be a good way to call attention to the topic, whether he likes it or not.
The publication released the cartoon days after the Taliban managed to regain control of Afghanistan less than two weeks since the departure of US and Allied forces. Now, hundreds of thousands of Afghans who worked for the US military are in danger of being hunted down and executed. Likewise, women have been stripped of many basic human rights based on the Islamic laws that the Taliban are implementing by force.
Women have been forced to drop out of schools, and they can no longer work. In fact, they are not to be seen out on the streets without a male guardian. Should they fall ill, they are not allowed to be treated by male doctors.
There is massive international outrage about the situation, but rich and powerful Arab states have mostly remained quiet. The United States are somehow being blamed for the chaos, after they ended their 20-year presence in the country which started after the 9-11 attacks.
Charlie Hebdo wants to prove a point, despite suffering dire consequences when their offices were attacked in 2015 following the publication of a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad.