New issue of Charlie Hebdo sells out across France
First batch of 500,000 magazine copies quickly snapped up by customers
The latest edition of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo went on sale across France today, a week after 12 people were killed in a massacre at the magazine’s offices.
The first batch of around 500,000 copies were quickly snapped up by customers and it has been reported that the print run is being increased to five million to be distributed throughout the next fortnight.
The cover features a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad shedding a tear while holding a sign that reads “Je suis Charlie” with the words “All is forgiven” in French above it on a green background.
“I wrote ‘all is forgiven’ and I cried,” Renald “Luz” Luzier, who drew the image, told journalists at a press conference at the headquarters of Libération, where the survivors have been working under heavy police protection.
“This wasn’t the front page the world wanted us to do, but it’s the one we wanted. The Muhammad we painted is, above all, a figure that is crying,” said Luz. Gérard Biard, the editor-in-chief, added: ”Our Muhammad is a lot more likeable than the Muhammad that the terrorists brandish.”
With demand surging for the first issue since Islamist gunmen attacked the magazine, digital versions will be posted in English, Spanish and Arabic, while print editions in Italian and Turkish will also appear. The print run dwarfs the magazine’s normal weekly sale of 60,000 copies.
As queues formed to buy the magazine the leader of an al Qaeda branch in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attack claiming the massacre was “vengeance for the prophet”. Nasr al-Ansi, of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, said the branch had chosen, planned and financed the massacre.
The clamour for copies has driven some to scour eBay within hours of the controversial title hitting shelves. The survivors’ edition of the French satirical magazine costs €3, but has already attracted three-figure bids on the UK version of the internet trading site.
The proceeds of the first million copies will go directly to Charlie Hebdo, as the distribution companies have agreed to do the work for free.
The issue will include other cartoons featuring the prophet and making fun of other religions, its lawyer Richard Malka said. “We will not back down, otherwise none of this has any meaning,” he said.
Charlie journalists said that when they sat down to plan the issue, joined by a number of the magazine’s former staff, who came to help out, columnist Patrick Pelloux began by saying: “So, what’s in the news this week?” The team laughed, and got to work. Eulogies were banned; the only instruction was to produce a “normal” issue of the magazine.
“A good issue of Charlie Hebdo is one that you open, one that frightens you when you see the cartoon, and then makes you laugh out loud,” Mr Malka said.