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Charlie Hebdo 'survivors' special' sells out

January 14, 2015

The "survivors' edition" of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo has sold out in France. Al Qaeda in Yemen has claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks which killed 17 people last week.

Charlie Hebdo Verkauf in Paris 14.01.2015
Image: picture-alliance/epa/Y. Valat

The print run for Wednesday's edition was increased from 3 million to 5 million hours after the satirical magazine hit news stands across France. Seven hundred thousand issues had been distributed across the country, all of which sold out by 10a.m. local time (0900 UTC). On average, the magazine runs just 60,000 copies a week.

The first issue since the Charlie Hebdo attacks, which on Wednesday were claimed by al Qaeda in Yemen, attracted a whole host of new readers, with many deciding to buy a copy in memory of the victims and in support of the freedom of speech.

"I've never bought it before, it's not quite my political stripes, but it's important to me to buy it today and support freedom of expression," said reader David Sullo told Reuters news agency at a kiosk in central Paris.

The widely anticipated issue was illustrated with a cartoon of a weeping bearded man wearing a turban and holding the sign "Je suis Charlie." The cover image appeared under the headline "Tout est pardonné" (All is forgiven).

Depicting the Prophet Muhammad - as the satirical magazine has done on numerous occasions - is blasphemous according to Islam. The gunmen who shot dead 12 people in an attack on the office of Charlie Hebdo last Wednesday were heard to have shouted "We have avenged the Prophet."

Surviving members of the Charlie Hebdo team worked on the edition at the offices of French left-wing daily newspaper Liberation, which loaned them the space. Late on Monday, Liberation posted the image to be shown on Charlie Hebdo's "survivors' issue."

"I wrote 'all is forgiven' and I cried," said cartoonist Renald Luzier (also known as Luz) who drew the image. "

This is our front page ... it's not the one the terrorists wanted us to draw," he said. "I'm not worried at all... I trust people's intelligence, the intelligence of humor."

International appeal

The special edition has been published in six languages, including French, Turkish and Italian versions in print, and English, Arabic and Spanish editions in electronic form.

Charlie Hebdo Pressekonferenz 13.01.2015
Image: Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images

Charlie Hebdo's Gerard Briard told the AFP news agency that the Turkish version was "the most important" of the five foreign versions because constitutional secularism is "under attack" in Turkey. Turkey - which jailed more journalists than any other country in 2012 and 2013 - is regularly accused of a lack of press freedom, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of seeking to erode the key principle of secularity in Turkey's constitution.

Riots broke out in the Muslim world in 2006 over Muhammad caricatures that were published in the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, which were republished by Charlie Hebdo.

Change of tone from Washington

In 2012, when Charlie Hebdo published similar depictions, US President Barack Obama's administration questioned the wisdom of the decision. However Washington on Tuesday said the magazine was "absolutely" entitled to show the cartoon on its front cover.

The Charlie Hebdo assailants, brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi, were killed by police on Friday in a raid north of Paris. Another man, Amedy Coulibaly, killed four Jewish people before he was shot by police in a linked attack.

Global unity

The attacks prompted an unprecedented show of national unity and a campaign of defiance, notably under the "Je suis Charlie" banner.

On Sunday, at least 3.7 million people and 50 leading world politicians marched through Paris in memory of the journalists, police pfficers and supermarket customers who died in last week's attacks. Similar marches of respect were held in other parts of France as well as cities around the world including Berlin, London, Moscow, and Jerusalem.

rc, ksb/kms (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)