REUTERS - A drawing in French satirical weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo suggesting Aylan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian boy found dead on a Turkish beach last year, would have grown up to be a sex attacker caused outrage online on Thursday.
The cartoon depicts two male creatures running after terrified women with the caption: "What would have become of the young Aylan if he had grown up? A groper in Germany."
Sexual assaults on women in Cologne and other German cities on New Year's Eve, many blamed on migrants, have prompted more than 600 criminal complaints and caused a backlash against German Chancellor Angela Merkel's policies on refugees. More than 1 million entered Germany last year, more than any other European country.
The cartoon was published a week after the anniversary of attacks on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris which killed 12 people in January last year. The phrase "Je suis Charlie" ("I am Charlie"), was swiftly adopted by supporters online.
This time, many people on social media said the cartoon was offensive while others argued Charlie Hebdo was keeping to its usual provocative tone to stir debate on European attitudes to the migrant crisis.
The image of Aylan lying face down on a Turkish beach last September appeared around the world and prompted a wave of sympathy for the plight of refugees fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa.
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