Charlie Hebdo has made a defiant return with a new issue that sold out across France in record time, as al-Qaeda posted a video claiming last week’s deadly attack on its cartoonists.
The satirical weekly once again featured what the artists said was the Prophet Muhammad on its cover, but with a tear in his eye, holding a “Je Suis Charlie” sign under the headline “All is forgiven.”
After many Parisians joined long queues outside newspaper kiosks in the pre-dawn cold to get their hands on a copy, French President Francois Hollande said “Charlie Hebdo is alive and will live on.”
“You can murder men and women but you can never kill their ideas,” he said.
About 700,000 copies were released and sold on Wednesday as part of a print run that will eventually total five million.
Al-Qaeda’s Yemen branch (AQAP) claimed responsibility for the attack by gunmen on the Paris offices of the weekly last Wednesday that left 12 people dead including some of the country’s best-loved cartoonists.
“[AQAP] was the party that chose the target and plotted and financed the plan… It was following orders by our general chief Ayman al-Zawahiri,” said one of its leaders in the video, adding it was “vengeance” for the weekly’s cartoons of the prophet.
Brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi who carried out the attack are known to have trained with the group.
The newspaper made fun of other religions as well in its latest publication released on Wednesday, and said that Sunday’s turnout of a million people at a march in Paris to condemn terrorism was larger “than for mass”.
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“For the past week, Charlie, an atheist newspaper, has achieved more miracles than all the saints and prophets combined,” it said in the edition’s lead editorial.
“The one we are most proud of is that you have in your hands the newspaper that we always made.”
Renald Luzier, the cartoonist who drew the cover image under the pen name “Luz”, said it represents “just a little guy who’s crying”.
He said: “Yes, it is Muhammad.”
Many Muslims believe any pictorial representation of the prophet is blasphemous.
The issue will also appear in 16 languages, including Arabic, and will be sold in 25 countries. So far, the newspaper has never had a significant readership, with many French people thinking the cartoons were in bad taste.
Al Jazeera’s Jacky Rowland, reporting from Paris, said that people queued outside newspaper stalls. “In many cases it sold out before the store even opened because it was reserved by buyers,” she said.
Pierre Fatemi, a newspaper vendor, told Al Jazeera: “I used to receive five copies here and I would only sell one. After these events, I should be getting 40 copies tomorrow. But 60 people have already paid in advance, so I’ll be getting more copies over the next few days.”
Last Wednesday, two masked attackers stormed the newspaper’s headquarter in Paris killing 12 people, including much of the weekly’s editorial staff and two police officers.
The incident was followed by three days of dramatic events in which an additional five people died and ended with the deaths of the three attackers.
The Associated Press news agency reported that an official who keeps track of hate crimes against Muslims in France said there were 60 incidents – attacks and threats – in the six days following the attack.
Abdallah Zekri, head of the National Observatory Against Islamophobia, said that since last Wednesday’s massacre at Charlie Hebdo, 26 places of worship around France were attacked by firebombs, bullets or pig heads, with a mosque in Le Mans hit with four grenades.
Dieudonne, a controversial French comedian, was reportedly taken into police custody for posting “I feel like Charlie Coulibaly” on Facebook, in a reference to Charlie Hebdo and Amedy Coulibaly, who was behind the attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris.
The Paris prosecutor’s office said 54 people had been detained for defending or glorifying terrorism since the Paris attacks.