A year after the jihadist attacks which killed the core of the editorial team of "Charlie Hebdo," the French satirical magazine releases a special issue featuring a gun-toting God and a provocative editorial.
A crazy-eyed, bloodied god figure armed with a Kalashnikov is the cartoon on the cover of the special edition marking the first anniversary of the "Charlie Hebdo" attacks in Paris. The headline claims: "One year on: The assassin is still on the run."
One million copies of the magazine will go on sale on Wednesday, January 6 - the eve of the tragedy during which 12 people died at the magazine's office, including many members of the editorial team.
The special issue will also include drawings by the killed cartoonists - Cabu, Wolinski, Charb, Tignous, and Honoré - as well as special contributions by French Minister of Culture Fleur Pellerin, stars such as Isabelle Adjani, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Juliette Binoche, and authors like Élisabeth Badinter, Taslima Nasreen and Russell Banks.
In his editorial, Laurent Sourisseau, the newspaper's director who goes by the name Riss, describes the deadly atmosphere which silenced everyone when the two gunmen opened fire in the newsroom. The survivor uses an enraged and profanity-laced tone to denounce "brainwashed fanatics," claiming that "the convictions of atheists can move more mountains than religious faith."
Protests were held from Chechnya to Chad, and here in Pakistan, against the cover featuring the Prophet Muhammad in January 2015
Committed to satire
In January 2015, a "survivor's issue" was defiantly produced by the survivors, hitting the newsstands just a week after the attacks. Its cover featured the Prophet Muhammad with a tear in his eye, under the headline "All is forgiven." This representation of the prophet sparked protests in a number of Muslim countries.
Another controversial cover created by Riss featured Aylan Kurdi under a McDonald's sign. A photo of the Syrian toddler, who was found dead on a Turkish beach in September, had become a icon of the refugee crisis. Riss aimed to criticize consumer society - but was himself accused of racism.
Despite criticism, "Charlie Hebdo" remains committed to its struggle to "laugh at everything," said Eric Portheault, the newspaper's financial director, who survived the attacks by hiding behind his desk when the terrorists stormed in the offices of the magazine.
"We feel terribly alone. We hoped that others would do satire, too," he added. "No one wants to join us in this fight because it's dangerous. You can die doing it."
The current staff of around 20 has recently moved into new, ultra-secure offices. Their address is a tightly-guarded secret.
eg/kbm (AFP, AP)