DHARAMSALA, Jan 13: The French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo whose editor and 11 other members were brutally massacred last week defied the attackers by putting a cartoon of Prophet Mohammed on the cover of its next publication.
The latest issue, due out Wednesday features on its cover a cartoon of a weeping Prophet Mohammed in white turban holding a sign that reads “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie) under the caption “Tout est pardonne” (All is forgiven).
The magazine further announced that rather than the usual 60,000 copies, it would print three million copies when it reappears on newsstands this week.
Charlie Hebdo, which was relatively unknown until last week, became a global symbol of free speech after two Islamist gunmen stormed its Paris office on January 7 and killed 12 people in an act of vengeance for earlier publications of Mohammad cartoons. A second terror attack at a Jewish supermarket two days later left 5 people dead.
The spree of violence ended last Friday after police killed three men believed to be the perpetrators of the heinous crime.
About 50 world leaders, including French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas took part in a ‘unity rally’ in Paris last Sunday in support of the victims and free speech.
More than 1.5 million people joined the leaders in the procession- believed to be the biggest rally in French history- to denounce the killings. Many carried signs with the popular slogan “Je suis Charlie” and some carried placards that read “Not Afraid” while some simply wielded pens and pencils.
The White House which has been criticized for President Obama’s decision not to attend Sunday’s unity march in Paris admitted Monday that a higher-ranking US official should have participated for the show of solidarity. The US ambassador to France, Jane D. Hartley, participated in the rally.
“It’s fair to say that we should have sent someone with a higher profile to be there,” Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman, said at his daily briefing with reporters at the White House.
While declining to reveal the details of the conversations that led to the decision, Earnest cited scheduling and security concerns as reasons for the diplomatic lapse.
“The security requirements around a presidential visit, or even a vice presidential visit, are onerous,” Earnest said. “It would have been very difficult to do so without significantly impacting the ability of common citizens to participate.”
While millions across the world empathized and showed solidarity with France and supported free speech, China’s official news agency argued on Sunday that the terror attack on Charlie Hebdo shows the need to impose limits on freedom of the press.
“Charlie Hebdo had on multiple occasions been the target of protests and even revenge attacks on account of its controversial cartoons,” read a commentary by Ying Qiang, Xinhua Paris bureau chief, adding that the magazine had been criticized in the past for being “both crude and heartless” in its attacks on religion.
“What they seem not to realize is that world is diverse, and there should be limits on press freedom,” it continued.
“Many religions and ethnic groups in this world have their own totems and spiritual taboos. Mutual respect is crucial for peaceful coexistence,” the commentary further said. “Unfettered and unprincipled satire, humiliation and free speech are not acceptable.”
However, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei at a regular press briefing on Monday said “China opposed terrorism in all forms”. Hong said China’s ambassador to France, Kong Quan, attended the rally and added, “the content of the Xinhua commentary reflects Xinhua’s own point of view”.