New Round of Death Threats For Coco

The truth can be painful, especially for those dedicated to revealing it. French political cartoonist, Corinne Rey aka Coco, must once again worry about her safety.

Last month, one of France’s leading newspapers La Libération posted a controversial drawing by Coco on its X (formerly Twitter) feed. The drawing is titled “Ramadan in Gaza: start of a month of fasting”. Amidst a bombed-out landscape, a Palestinian mother slaps the hand of her famished son as he chases two rats that are also starving—one carrying a human bone between its teeth, the other a dangling eyeball. “Not before sunset!” she scolds. The image packs a double whammy, criticizing not only Israel’s brutal counterattack in Gaza but also strict adherence to religious practices that aren’t necessarily in the best interests of the faithful.

Ramadan in Gaza, by Coco
After Coco’s controversial cartoon appeared in La Libération, she was bombarded with threats and insults.

At the time of publication, the United Nations was reporting that 2.4 million Gazans were trapped, 2.3 million were experiencing food and water shortages, and 1.7 million had been displaced by battle fire and Israeli bombardments. Israel’s retaliation for Hamas’s October 7, 2023 kidnapping had also destroyed countless residences and commercial properties and obliterated the region’s medical system.

Given today’s propensity for online outrage, it’s no surprise that Coco’s drawing provoked a slew of cruel and abusive responses. Sadly, we now live in a world where rational debate is drowned out by the cacophony of insults and death threats that proliferate online. In this case, the barbs seemed to come from unlikely associates: Muslims, Jews, left-wing politicians, conservatives, Gen Zs…

Corinne Rey
Corinne Rey, aka Coco

Coco’s cartoon provokes violent reactions because it exposes uncomfortable truths that we’ve been conditioned to downplay or deny. I won’t argue that her approach is the best way to win hearts and minds but I’m not about to condemn it. Regardless of one’s personal beliefs, one thing that almost all of us find distasteful is politicians who wiggle and worm their way around controversial issues. We don’t like leaders who always play it safe, studying and perfecting what the greatest percentage of people want to hear. Coco’s portrayal hits hard because it lies well outside of that safety zone. It’s meant to rattle.

Despite the menacing artillery fire directed at her social media feeds, Coco stood her ground, sharing screen captures of the hate-filled threats and defending her work as follows:

« Petit florilège (tout petit hein) de conneries, menaces et messages antisémites reçus suite à ce dessin publié hier dans Libé. Un dessin (que j’assume parfaitement!) qui souligne le désespoir des palestiniens, dénonce la famine à Gaza et moque aussi l’absurdité de la religion »

“Here’s a small collection (teeny-tiny) of bullshit, threats and anti-semite messages that I’ve received after publishing this drawing in Libé yesterday. A drawing (that I absolutely stand by!) that stresses the desperate situation in Palestine, denounces the famin in Gaza and also mocks the absurdity of religion.”

For better or for worse, change is initiated by people who operate outside the window of acceptability. Coco, a survivor of the deadly attack on the satirical French weekly, Charlie Hebdo, has built her career on challenging the status quo and paid a terrible price. She’s never caused physical pain to anyone, nor threatened to do harm. Quite the contrary, she’s channeled her disdain for hypocrisy and tyranny onto the page in an effort to make people think.

I find works like this one to be brilliant, because whether you find them humorous or tragic or offensive, you recognize—in one simple drawing and a dozen or so words—the circumstances they seek to condemn. In the end, Coco makes her point.

About Carol A. Seidl

Serial software entrepreneur, writer, translator, and mother of 3. Avid follower of French media, culture, history, and language. Lover of books, travel, history, art, cooking, fitness, and nature. Cultivating connections with francophiles and francophones.


  1. Yes to “you recognize—in one simple drawing and a dozen or so words—the circumstances they seek to condemn.” That is what political cartoons should do. A favorite from Pogo: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

  2. It’s the natural outcome of a basic clash of values. Countries like France, the US, and Israel recognize freedom of expression as a fundamental value; jihadists and other religious fanatics don’t, because they fear ridicule of their beliefs, because those beliefs are profoundly ridiculous. Requiring people desperate for food to adhere to silly and arbitrary taboos about when and how they can eat is an example of this.

    It’s good that Rey has not been intimidated and has been posting screencaps of the threats and messages antisémites she’s received. People need to be aware of the nature of the danger to their free society. And from Charlie Hebdo to Samuel Paty, there has been plenty of proof that the threat is real. I hope Rey has police protection.

    And not all the threats emanate from Muslims. In the US, at least one Jewish man was beaten to death shortly after October 7 by a mob of “pro-Palestine” “demonstrators”. In Berlin, persons unknown went around marking places where Jews lived so they could be identified. Swastikas have been displayed at some of these demonstrations, as Hamas itself displayed swastika flags on the Gaza-Israel border in 2018. These things are implicit threats too.

    You mention Jews as one of the groups from which “the barbs” have come. Has she actually been getting threats from Jews or merely criticism? The listing gives the impression that Muslims and Jews have been roughly comparable in the nature of their reactions to this. If true, that would be historically unprecedented.

    I think it’s also worth pointing out that October 7 was not merely a “kidnapping” but the largest mass murder of Jews since the fall of the Nazi regime, carried out with open sadism and glee beyond what was seen even among the German Nazis themselves. The damage to the Gaza health system results from Hamas putting military bases and weapons stockpiles underneath hospitals, deliberately using Palestinians as human shields, while Israel continues to go to almost absurd lengths to minimize enemy civilian casualties, taking measures no other nation has ever even contemplated. Any effort to claim a moral equivalence between the two sides constitutes abject moral depravity, even though that can never justify threatening a person who expresses such views, as Rey has been threatened.

    There are also plenty of other conflicts where Muslims are suffering as much or more deprivation, which the cartoon could have used to make the same point about the absurdity of Ramadan without wading into murky moral territory. The civil war in Yemen, for example, has so far killed an estimated 377,000 people with proportionate destruction, far exceeding the (probably inflated) toll of 30,000 which Hamas claims for Gaza. None of the people in the West screaming about Gaza care about that because it doesn’t give them an opportunity to condemn the Jews, which is their real point. But the desperation of Yemen’s people would have illustrated the idiocy of Islam’s taboo on eating during daylight in Ramadan equally well.

    It is good and necessary to draw attention to the threats to free expression of which Rey is the latest target. We also need to be clear about where the threats come from, and who stands with us as defenders of the same free values, and as co-targets of the same threats.

    • You ask if Rey has police protection. I imagine at times the police might be called to watch over her but I think in general she relies on a private security detail. I have no idea who pays for it or whether it operates 24/7.

      I don’t know if threats of physical harm have come from Jews. By barbs, I also meant degrading insults and hate speech.

      I doubt that Rey was looking for an opportunity to condemn the Jews. She seems to be an equal opportunity cartoonist, criticizing violence, inequity, and hypocrisy wherever it may lie.

      • I wasn’t implying that Rey personally was motivated by a desire to condemn the Jews. But it’s definitely the case of most of the “pro-Palestinian” “protesters” in the West.

        • Sadly we are living in an age where people are eager to pick a side and condemn the opposing. This is true even for many of the world’s leaders who seek to eliminate their adversaries rather than find some sort of common ground. It’s a huge problem everywhere but especially tragic in the Middle East. Thanks for the clarification and as always for the thought you put into your comments Infidel.

          • Thanks. I hope my second comment didn’t seem too abrupt. It wrote it in a rush because I was in a hurry this morning but anted to make sure you didn’t think I was directing that particular remark against Rey specifically.

  3. Coco is “cool”. Seriously she’s brave. Not many of her kind left. As violence increases everyday in France, most people turn the other way.
    Thank you for your post, Carol.

    • She certainly is, Brieuc! I can’t imagine being in her shoes and admire her guts.

      • She is very brave. Under constant police protection, as all Charlie survivors. I think it taught her to hang tight, and never let anybody ‘s threats get to her.

        • Oh. That’s good to know Brieuc. I’m glad to hear it!!!

          • You mean the police protection? All the survivors do have one. Many journalists or public figures have too. Death threat? Police protection. We’ve had too many killed by the idiots.

          • That’s great. Not the case in the United States.

          • No police protection?

          • I don’t know of people that receive sustained police protection other than a president or vice president. Consider someone like Nancy Pelosi. She’s been threatened like crazy. Even after members of the Jan 6 mob broke into her office threatening to do her in, a madman was able to break into her home and attack her husband. She may have some security but I suspect she pays out of pocket. Mitt Romney has spoken of the private security services he’s had to engage to protect his family. One of the Capitol police officers who was beaten on Jan 6, receives regular threats given that he often speaks out against Trump and the protestors that stormed the Capitol. I’ve heard him express concern for his safety since he cannot afford to hire private security. I’m under the impression that police protection is provided in rare circumstances and then only on a short term basis.

            Maybe other readers can provide more information.

          • I think you’re right. Unbelievable, but most certainly true. The “Secret Service” is only for the Prez, VP, and maybe cabinet members? Very unfortunate. Not to mention the police officer who can’t afford private security.

  4. If France actually provides ongoing police protection to the survivors of the Charlie Hebdo mass killing, that’s impressive, and shows a real commitment to defending freedom of expression. I’m pretty sure nothing like that would happen here in the US. I too have heard of Romney having to pay for private security, and he’s a senator. Of course he’s also a multi-millionaire who can afford it. Most people couldn’t. On the other hand, it’s pretty easy to obtain a gun for self-defense here.

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