The “survivors’ issue” of Charlie Hebdo will also be sold outside France next week because of the massive world attention for the satirical weekly following the massacre of its top staff — a turnaround for a publication that just a week ago was on the brink of folding.
The remaining employees of the publication are putting out the special edition next Wednesday, which they say will have one million copies printed instead of the usual 60,000.
The online solidarity slogan #JeSuisCharlie has now been used more than five million times, according to Twitter France, making it the most-ever shared hashtag for France-related topics.
The French company MLP that Charlie Hebdo is using to distribute its much-awaited issue has done deals with several other press distribution groups, notably Naville in Switzerland and SGEL in Spain, to sell the edition, industry sources said. Negotiations are going on with companies in other countries, such as Canada.
Many other countries that have never seen Charlie Hebdo — a comic-heavy newspaper that delights in breaking taboos and testing the boundaries of taste — are also calling for copies to come their way.
All of the companies involved in getting next week’s newspaper to the public have promised to do so for free, and all money from sales of the issue are to go to the families of the 12 people murdered in the attack on Charlie Hebdo’s offices on Wednesday by two Islamist gunmen.
The massacre wiped out five of the newspaper’s leading cartoonists. The surviving members of the publication have been at work since Friday in premises loaned by the newspaper Liberation to produce the new issue.
Chief editor Gerard Biard, who was in London the day of the attack, said the issue will include cartoons from the whole team — including some from the killed cartoonists.
All the surviving staff are working on the issue for free.
– France’s Charlie Brown –
The sudden global prominence of Charlie Hebdo, which before typically sold only half of its usual 60,000 printed copies in France, has saved it from imminent bankruptcy.
The newspaper, named after the American comicbook character Charlie Brown (“Hebdo” is French slang for weekly), had only in November made a public appeal for donations to keep going.
Back then, of the one million euros ($1.2 million) it was asking for, it had received only 26,000 euros. Closure seemed inevitable.
But now, French media have rallied around the title to offer whatever help it needs, and the French government is looking at releasing public funds to bail out Charlie Hebdo.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls even dropped by on Friday as the surviving staff started work to lend his official support to the publication — which has in the past lampooned him and other politicians.
Keeping Charlie Hebdo going is now being seen in France as an act of defiance to the Islamists who sought to extinguish it, and a testament to free speech.
Devout Muslims, though, have been incensed in recent years by some cartoons Charlie Hebdo printed mocking their Prophet Mohammed.
In 2011, the newspaper’s offices, empty at the time, were firebombed by suspected Islamists. Any depiction of Mohammed is considered forbidden under Islam.
In 2006, Charlie Hebdo became a major target for Islamists when it reprinted 12 cartoons of the prophet published by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in a statement for freedom of expression. The cartoons, including one which showed the Islamic prophet wearing a bomb in a turban, had sparked violent protests in several Muslim countries.
Charlie Hebdo’s staff — including several of those killed — had long refused to bow to demands to avoid such sensitive subjects. Instead they redoubled their provocative efforts.
“The newspaper only defended freedom of expression,” its lawyer, Richard Malka, said this week, adding that it “paid a heavy price for that”.