Details are emerging about the first issue of Paris-based satirical newsweekly Charlie Hebdo since gunmen stormed its office last week, killing 12 people in an attack that ignited worldwide shows of solidarity and fanned European fears about homegrown terrorism.
With its previous office now a crime scene, the remaining staff essentially relocated to Libération, a left-wing daily, which lent workspace to surviving staffers where they could plan it all out under increased security.
Libération began to circulate the cover image Monday evening. Drawn by veteran Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Rénald Luzier, known as Luz, the cover depicts the Prophet Muhammad, with a falling tear drop, holding a sign that reads Je Suis Charlie. That phrase, “I am Charlie,” is a nod to the hashtag that became a rallying cry of solidarity for the paper in the aftermath of the attack. Above the caricature is the phrase Tout est Pardonné, or “All is forgiven.”
The issue, to be published Wednesday, is expected to be translated into 16 languages. The New York Times, which got an inside look at the production, reports that it will feature tributes to, and old cartoons by, those who died in last week’s attack. Charlie Hebdo typically publishes 60,000 copies but, with the help of Libération, it will print 3 million copies of this issue.
“There will be a newspaper. There will be no interruption,” said editor-in-chief Gerard Briard at a press conference on Tuesday. “Freedom of the press in a democracy is an institution.”
“This isn’t an issue produced by crybabies,” Gérard Biard, the newspaper’s new editor, told France Info.
In 2011, the Charlie Hebdo office was firebombed after it announced the Prophet Muhammad would become its next editor-in-chief. In 2012, Charlie Hebdo printed a cartoon that depicted the religious figure naked, just days after the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, at the time said to result from anger over an amateur video that poorly depicted the Prophet. Last month, it released a drawing of the Virgin Mary that depicted her giving birth to Jesus. And on the day of the recent attack, minutes before the first reports of the killings began to circulate, Charlie Hebdo tweeted a cartoon of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed leader of the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, that jokingly wished him good health.
“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,” the paper’s attorney, Richard Malka, added. “We won’t give in, otherwise it wouldn’t make any sense.”
The final decision Monday about the upcoming cover was an emotional one, Libération details: “Around 9:30 p.m., a small piece of paper makes the rounds, causing cries, laughs and cheers. The editor-in-chief Gérard Biard hugs Luz, who collapses. After hours marked by failed attempts, bouts of depression and writer’s block, the cover is approved. The Prophet is Charlie.”
Briard, the editor in chief, thanked new subscribers to Charlie Hebdo, specifically mentioning Arnold Schwarzenegger. “We thank all those who have subscribed, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, who on his own represents 10 subscribers,” he joked.
Wednesday’s issue will be released the same week that funerals for the victims are set to begin. French police continue to investigate the background of the two men identified as the Charlie Hebdo killers, brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi, who were killed on Friday. And authorities are working to protect other other sensitive locations, specifically Jewish neighborhoods and schools, following Friday’s deadly attack on a kosher supermarket by Amedy Coulibaly, a man identified as a friend of the brothers.
Despite the complexities that went into putting together the issue, Malka, the lawyer, told The Telegraph, “It’s an act of life, of survival.”
—With reporting by Olivier Laurent and Sam Frizell