Prophet Muhammad is Back on Charlie Hebdo’s Cover

Three million copies will go on sale tomorrow.

Warning: Some readers may find the image of Charlie Hebdo‘s cover, to be released on Wednesday, offensive. However, artnet News and numerous other organizations have deemed that the news value of the image warrants its reproduction in this article.

“Tout est pardonné” (all is forgiven) reads the cover of tomorrow’s edition of Charlie Hebdo. It is the controversial magazine’s first issue to hit newsstands since the deadly terrorist attack that killed eight members of its editorial team and two policemen last week (see 12 Killed at Magazine Previously Attacked for Satirical Cartoons).

But the forgiving message is accompanied by an image of the prophet Muhammad holding a “Je Suis Charlie” sign, which is sure to spark further controversy.

The cover seems to echo the spirit of forgiveness and defiance of the 2 million peaceful demonstrators and 46 world leaders that gathered in the streets of Paris on Sunday afternoon, where signs and chants of the slogan “Je Suis Charlie” were seen and heard throughout.

Charlie Hedbo’s latest issue will go on sale tomorrow with a run of three million copies­, way beyond its usual print run of 60,000 (see Will Charlie Hebdo Sell More Copies After Paris Tragedy?). The issue—for which a fund with contributions from the French government, Facebook, Apple, and Google among others was raised—has been made in collaboration with the French newspaper Libération and will be published in 16 languages, according to the Guardian.

“We don’t feel any hate to them,” Zineb El Rhazoui, a Charlie Hedbo columnist told BBC Radio 4’s Today program. “We know that the struggle is not with them as people, but the struggle is with an ideology,” she said of the assailants.

Since the attack, countless demonstrations have taken place across the world, championing freedom of speech and the work of the slain cartoonists (see Why the Killing of Charlie Hebdo Cartoonists Will Make Art Stronger and #JeSuisCharlie: A Digest of Responses to the Killings at Charlie Hebdo).

Such response has also triggered in huge interest in the magazine itself. Prices on eBay for copies of last week’s issue of Charlie Hedbo fetched up to €100,000 (see Auction Market Rabid for Charlie Hebdo Issues). It featured a caricature of the controversial writer Michel Houellebecq, who recently published Submission, a novel in which he imagines France run by a Muslim president in 2022.

Meanwhile, reactions to the cover have started to come in. Omer el-Hamdoon, the president of the Muslim Association of Britain told the Guardian: “My reaction to the cartoon is disgust, but tending more to annoyance as well because I feel that what’s happening here is not that different from what we witnessed back in 2005 with the Danish cartoons when media outlets went into a cycle of just publishing the cartoons just to show defiance. And what that caused is more offence.”

The cover of the new issue of Charlie HebdoPhoto: Charlie Hebdo/EPA via The Guardian

The cover of the new issue of Charlie Hebdo
Photo: Charlie Hebdo/EPA via The Guardian


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