Charlie Hebdo cover shows prophet Mohammad crying, 3 million issues printed

by Staff |

(REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer)Satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo new editor in chief Gerard Briard (L) and columnist Patrick Pelloux comfort cartoonist Luz (C) during a news conference at the French newspaper Liberation offices in Paris, January 13, 2015.

PARIS/BOBIGNY, France (Christian Examiner) -- Charlie Hebdo's latest front page shows a caricature of Islam's Prophet Mohammad crying and holding a sign that says "Je suis Charlie" ("I am Charlie") with the headline "Tout est pardonne" ("All is forgiven"). The Wednesday edition is expected to sell over 3 million copies because of increased demand since the Paris terror attacks last week.

The French satirical magazine usually only prints about 60,000 copies, but in the aftermath of eight staffers' deaths last week and the subsequent marches of solidarity supporting the publication, demand has substantially increased. Digital versions will be posted in English, Spanish and Arabic, while print editions in Italian and Turkish will also appear, editor-in-chief Gerard Blard said at a Paris press conference Tuesday.

"I wrote 'all is forgiven' and I cried," Renald Luzier told reporters. "This is our front page ... it's not the one the terrorists wanted us to draw. I'm not worried at all ... I trust people's intelligence, the intelligence of humor."

Charlie Hebdo's Jan. 14 issue will include other cartoons featuring Mohammad and also making fun of politicians and other religions, its attorney Richard Malka told Reuters.

Egypt's Muslim authority Dar al-Ifta immediately denounced the cover, and asked the French government to "announce their rejection of this racist act that attempts to raise religious strife and sectarianism, and deepen hatred." French officials have not responded.

However, Muslim organizations in France urged followers of Mohammad to "remain calm and avoid emotive or incongruous reactions incompatible with dignity" and "[respect for] freedom of opinion."

Indeed, the weekly publication has no intentions of toning down its often provocative and secular rhetoric.

"We will not back down, otherwise none of this has any meaning," Malka told French radio. "If you hold the banner 'I am Charlie', that means you have the right to blaspheme, you have the right to criticize my religion."

On Sunday, at least 3.7 million people throughout France marched in support for Charlie Hebdo and freedom of expression. World leaders like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, joined French President Francois Hollande to lead more than one million people through Paris in an unprecedented homage to the victims.

Three days of violence ended on Friday with a siege at the Jewish grocery in Paris where four hostages and a gunman were killed. Shortly before that, police killed the Hebdo attackers in a gun battle at a print works northwest of the city.

In the wake of the violence, Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said 10,000 troops were being deployed at sensitive sites including synagogues, mosques and airports.

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