Charlie Hebdo stereotypes Romanian tennis idol

Romanian tennis fans demand an apology from French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo after it published a cartoon depicting Roland Garros winner Simona Halep as a scrap iron peddler. 

Ana Maria Luca
Ana Maria Luca NewsMavens, Central & Eastern Europe
Charlie Hebdo stereotypes Romanian tennis idol - NewsMavens
Simona Halep, Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

Romanians are sensitive when someone criticizes their national heroes, and tennis player Simona Halep is one of the country's sports idols. So when French humor magazine Charlie Hedbo featured her in a cartoon that played upon ethnic stereotypes, public anger was aroused.

Romanians watch her matches as eagerly and breathlessly as most people watch their national football teams in the Word Cup and each one of them triggers prime-time talk-shows on television and endless social media debates. 

When French magazine Charlie Hebdo published a cartoon of her holding the Roland Garros cup -- her first grand slam win -- with an offensive caption reading "Scrap iron! Scrap iron!" it was no surprise that Romanians were angered. 

The caption is a reference to Romanian Roma scrap iron peddlers who shout the words while they pass through neighborhoods. It also recalls a time during the presidency of Nikolas Sarkozy, when France paid money to repatriate Romanian Roma immigrants and when the French media often ridiculed Romanians by stereotyping them as beggars.

Details from the story:

  • A cartoon published on Thursday by the famous French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo has angered Romanian fans of the winner of the Roland Garros Tennis tournament, Simona Halep.
  • The caption refers to Romanian Roma who often peddle scrap iron – the evident suggestion being that Halep would melt down the trophy for scrap.
  • Romanian media called the so-called joke racist, while fans took to social media to demand an apology from the French magazine.
  • "Greetings and shame on you for [mocking] our champion Simona Halep. When you experienced bombings, Romanians showed solidarity with you and your people. This has proved your character!” a reader said on the magazine's Facebook fan page. 
  • In 2010, a France 2 tv show triggered protests from Romania's Embassy in Paris after a comedian called the expression used by beggars on the streets of Paris - S'il vous plait, monsieur! - "the Romanian salute." 
  • Charlie Hebdo was the target of a shocking Islamist terrorist attack  which left 12 dead in January 2015, after publishing a series of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammed. 
inbox_large_illu Created with Sketch.
Tired of the news media’s prevailing male perspective? We are too.

Get our newsletters composed exclusively by female journalists from all over Europe.


Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

The information and views set out on this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.

NewsMavens is a media start-up within Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest liberal broadsheet published by Agora S.A. NewsMavens is currently financed by Gazeta Wyborcza and Google DNI Fund.
Is something happening in your country that Newsmavens should cover?
Zuzanna Ziomecka
Zuzanna Ziomecka EDITOR IN CHIEF
Lea Berriault-Jauvin
Lea Berriault Managing Editor
Jessica Sirotin
Jessica Sirotin EDITOR
Ada Petriczko
Ada Petriczko EDITOR
Gazeta Wyborcza, Agora SA Czerska 8/10 00-732, Warsaw Poland
The e-mail addresses provided above are not intended for recruitment purposes. Messages concerning recruitment will be deleted immediately. Your personal data provided as part of your correspondence with Zuzanna,Lea, Jessica and Ada will be processed for the purpose of resolving the issue you contacted us about. The data provided in your email is controlled by Agora S.A. with its registered office in Warsaw Czerska 8/10 Street (00-732). You can find more information about the processing and protection of your personal data at