French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, published its latest edition Wednesday, the first since the attack last week which claimed 12 lives.
This new edition sports another cartoon of the prophet Muhammad, in which he is holding a sign saying “Je suis Charlie,” or “I am Charlie,” while shedding a single tear in empathy with the families of the lost journalists. The headline above reads “Tout est Pardonne’,” or “All is Forgiven.”
The attack on January 7 was carried out by two Wahhabi Islamist gunmen, Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, who forced their way into the Paris magazine’s headquarters and opened fire, killing cartoonists Cabu, Charb, Honoré, Tignous and Wolinski, as well as seven others. Throughout the attack the gunmen shouted in Arabic, “God is great” and “the Prophet is avenged.”
This has not been the first run-in with extremists that the publication has had to deal with however.
On November 2, 2011 their offices were fire-bombed and their website hacked. Those attacks were supposedly prompted by a decision to rename a special edition “Charia Hebdo” with credits to Muhammed as the editor-in-chief. The cover featured a cartoon drawn by Renald Luzier, or “Luz”, depicting Muhammad with a word balloon reading “100 lashes if you don’t die of laughter!”
Following a series of attacks on U.S. embassies in the Middle East in September of 2012, the publication released a series of satirical cartoons of Muhammad, some of which featured caricatures of him in the nude. This caused a wave of criticism from government officials, but the editor defended the cartoons, saying
We do caricatures of everyone…and when we do it with the Prophet, it’s called provocation.
The day following the 2015 attack, the surviving staff of Charlie Hebdo met and agreed to continue with business as usual. The massacre opened a worldwide debate concerning free speech, bringing more than 4 million people on a unity march through the streets of France on Sunday.
The magazine is to run a print of 3 million copies in 16 different languages on the new edition, significantly increasing from its normal 60,000, the cover of which will contain another artist rendition by Luz. As chance would have it, January 7 is Luz’s birthday, and he was late to the office that morning.
I applaud Charlie Hebdo, whose late editor, Stéphane Charbonnier, was so undeterred by death threats that not only did he release images of the Prophet, but he did it in a manner that flagrantly disregarded how many Muslims were offended by doing so. When threatened two years ago, Charb responded with,
I am not afraid of retaliation. I have no children, no wife, no car, no credit…It perhaps sounds a bit pompous, but I’d rather die standing than live on my knees.