The front cover of this week’s edition of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, the first since last week’s attack on its Paris offices that left 12 people dead, is a cartoon of the prophet Muhammad shedding a tear and holding up a sign reading “Je suis Charlie” in sympathy with the dead journalists. The headline says “All is forgiven”.
Zineb El Rhazoui, a surviving columnist at Charlie Hebdo magazine who worked on the new issue, said the cover was a call to forgive the terrorists who murdered her colleagues last week, saying she did not feel hate towards Chérif and Saïd Kouachi despite their deadly attack on the magazine, and urged Muslims to accept humour.
“We don’t feel any hate to them. We know that the struggle is not with them as people, but the struggle is with an ideology,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
The two gunmen who launched the attack on the magazine’s offices last Wednesday killed five of France’s top cartoonists, saying that they wanted to avenge the prophet for Charlie Hebdo’s satire of him.
The grieving journalists who survived the murderous assault promised it would be business as usual at the weekly publication.
A record 3m copies are to be printed, in 16 languages, after the massacre triggered a worldwide debate on free speech and brought more than 4 million people on to the streets of France in a unity march on Sunday.
The eight-page edition went to the presses on Monday night, according to Libération, the newspaper that offered Charlie Hebdo staff temporary working space following the attack.
The cover cartoon was drawn by the weekly’s cartoonist Luz, who survived the massacre because he was late arriving at the office.
Newspapers around Europe, including Libération, Le Monde and Frankfurter Allgemeine, have used the image online. The BBC showed it briefly during a newspaper review on Newsnight. In the US, the Washington Post, USA Today, LA Times, Wall Street Journal, The Daily Beast and CBS News ran the cover but the New York Times did not. In Australia, the ABC showed the image of the cartoon on its 24-hour rolling news programme but with a warning to viewers. The Guardian is running this cover as its news value warrants publication.
Asked to explain the magazine’s front cover, which features a cartoon of a crying Muhammad wearing a “Je suis Charlie” badge under the heading “All is forgiven”, Rhazoui said: “We feel that we have to forgive what happened. I think those who have been killed, if they would have been able to have a coffee today with the terrorists and just talk to ask them why have they done this … We feel at the Charlie Hebdo team that we need to forgive.”