Charlie Hebdo to Print 3 Million Copies With Muhammad Cover

Charlie Hebdo will print 3 million copies of a special issue of the satirical magazine, depicting the Prophet Muhammad on the cover, a week after an attack at its headquarters left a third of its journalists dead.

In its first post-attack edition, publishers of the weekly magazine will put the copies on newsstands worldwide in 16 languages on Jan. 14. The issue will feature a cartoon of Muhammad, crying, on a green background, holding a board saying “Je suis Charlie” or “I am Charlie.” Above his image is written “All is Forgiven.”

Millions of people in France and across the world rallied in marches in the past week to show support for the Charlie Hebdo victims. A Jan. 7 attack by two men at the magazine left 12 people dead. An associated gunman killed a policewoman and four shoppers in a kosher food store in separate attacks in the following two days. The three gunmen were killed by the police on Jan. 9.

The killings by self-proclaimed jihadists are the deadliest attacks in France in more than half a century. France has been on the highest terrorist alert since the first attack. More than 15,000 special forces are being deployed to protect sensitive sites across the country, including Jewish schools, tourist landmarks and Charlie Hebdo’s new headquarters in Paris.

This week’s magazine will have six or eight pages instead of the usual 16.

“This won’t be a tribute issue of some sort,” Richard Malka, Charlie Hebdo’s lawyer and spokesman, told France Info radio Monday. “We will be faithful to the spirit of the newspaper: making people laugh.”

Falling Circulation

The magazine’s circulation has dropped over the years. While issues with covers depicting Muhammad sold about 100,000 copies, the magazine often printed 60,000 copies and sales sometimes didn’t exceed 30,000.

After the attack, French Culture Minister Fleur Pellerin pledged 1 million euros ($1.2 million) of state money to help the publication. Google Inc. (GOOGL) promised to give 250,000 euros, U.K. daily The Guardian 125,000 euros. The French press association opened a bank account which is attracting donations from the public.

Charlie Hebdo has been published every Wednesday for the past 22 years. Religion, sex, death, politicians — nothing and no one has been off-limits. Five of its best known cartoonists – – who went by the pen names Char, Honore, Cabu, Wolinski and Tignous — were among those killed in the shootings. Four members of the magazine’s newsroom are still in the hospital.

Irreverent Covers

In its current form since 1992, Charlie Hebdo has featured irreverent covers including caricatures of former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn dancing in a red tutu, the late singer Michael Jackson shown as a skeleton shortly after his death, National Front leader Marine Le Pen shaving her pubic hair to represent Hitler’s moustache and Pope Francis holding up a pink condom and saying “this is my body.”

Over 10 million Twitter messages using the hashtags #JeSuisCharlie or #CharlieHebdo have been published since the attack, among the most used hashtags in the world.

Je Suis Charlie “is not just a slogan, you have to live it,” Malka said, calling on the “right to blasphemy.”

“That’s our fight,” he said, pledging the special issue will mock everything from Charlie Hebdo to the marches to support freedom of speech.

“We won’t give in, or all this would have been useless,” he said

On Jan. 7, when the two gunmen left the magazine’s premises on rue Nicolas Appert in Paris’s 11th arrondissement after the shootings, they screamed, “We killed Charlie Hebdo.”

Source: Bloomberg