First issue of Charlie Hebdo since attacks sold out across France

PARIS (AFP) - French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday published its first edition since Islamist gunmen killed 12 people in an attack on its offices, with a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed on the cover.

Three million copies of the weekly, featuring on the front a weeping prophet holding up a sign saying “Je suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie”) under the headline “All is forgiven", have been printed.

The magazine was sold out in many parts of the capital minutes after going on sale.  

“Je suis Charlie” is the slogan taken up by millions of supporters in France and around the world after eight of the magazine’s journalists and cartoonists and four other people were shot dead last week.  

The gunmen who carried out the attack appear to have been motivated by the magazine publishing cartoons of the prophet in the past.  

There are no other depictions of the prophet in the new edition, but many of the cartoons lampoon Islamist gunmen.  

The print run dwarfs Charlie Hebdo’s normal run of around 60,000 copies, and the edition will also be available in English, Spanish, Italian, Arabic and Turkish.  

Newspaper sellers said demand was high.  “It was incredible. I had a queue of 60-70 people waiting for me when I opened at 5.45 am. I’ve never seen anything like it. All my 450 copies were sold out in 15 minutes,” said a woman working at a kiosk in Gambetta metro station in Paris.  

The magazine’s surviving staff moved into the offices of Liberation newspaper to compile the edition, which they admitted had been an emotional experience.  

Cartoonist Renald “Luz” Luzier said he cried after drawing the front cover.  

The first issue since the attack has stirred Muslim anger in some countries.  

Al-Azhar in Cairo, Sunni Islam’s most prestigious centre of learning, warned that Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons “stir up hatred” and “do not serve the peaceful coexistence between peoples.”

Some Muslims feel any depiction of the prophet is sacrilege, and Egypt’s state-backed Islamic authority Dar al-Ifta denounced “an unjustified provocation against the feelings of 1.5 billion Muslims.”

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Tuesday the country was now engaged in a “war on terrorism", but stressed that Muslims would always have a home in France.  In a separate attack two days after Charlie Hebdo was targeted, four Jewish men were killed after an Islamist gunmen took hostages at a kosher supermarket.  

A policewoman was shot dead in a third shooting believed to have been carried out by the same attacker.  France, home to Europe’s largest Jewish and Muslim communities, was shaken to the core by its worst terrorist attacks for decades.  

On Tuesday, President Francois Hollande led a solemn ceremony paying tribute to the three police officers who lost their lives, while in Israel thousands turned out to mourn the four Jews killed during the siege in the store.  

Mr Hollande said “France will never break, will never yield, never bend” in the face of the Islamist threat that is “still there, inside and outside” the country.  

Charlie Hebdo, which lampoons everyone from the president to the pope, has become a symbol of freedom of expression in the wake of the bloodshed.  Proceeds from the new edition will go to victims’ families.  

Explaining the new front cover drawn in memory of his slain colleagues, who were some of France’s best-known cartoonists, Luz said Tuesday: “Our Mohammed is above all just a guy who is crying.  “He is much nicer than the one followed (worshipped) by the gunmen.”

A version of the new edition will be published in predominantly Muslim Turkey as an inset in the centre-left opposition daily Cumhuriyet, one of the Turkish paper’s journalists said.