In its first issue released after last week’s terrorist attack, the Charlie Hebdo newspaper depicted a cartoon of the prophet Mohammed. In an unprecedented distribution, the issue ran three million copies.
Prior to the attack in which terrorists killed 12 staff members, the satirical publication’s regular distribution numbered 60,000. The jump in circulation reflects the outpouring of international support for the newspaper and its slogan “Je suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie”) – now a symbol for the freedoms of speech and press.
The cover of the new issue shows a bearded man with a turban, the prophet Mohammed, crying with a sign reading “Je suis Charlie.” Above the Mohammed depiction was the phrase “Tout est Pardonné” (“All is Forgiven”).
Multiple U.S. newspapers, including USA Today and the Washington Post, printed Charlie Hebdo’s cover despite the fact that these publications regularly refrain from including images of Mohammed so as not to offend Muslim readers.
Some Muslims believe any image of Mohammed is blasphemous; the French newspaper was targeted for the frequent depictions of Mohammed in satirical cartoons. This week, Al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen declared it directed the attack to avenge the honor of the prophet Mohammed.
A total of 17 people were killed in the terrorist attack. Brothers Chérif and Said Kouachiand their friend, Amédy Coulibaly, were killed Friday by police after the attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices and a kosher supermarket. All three terrorists claimed ties to Islamic extremists in the Middle East.
“We will not give in. The spirit of ‘I am Charlie’ means the right to blaspheme,” Charlie Hebdo lawyer Richard Malka told France Info radio.
A U.S. resident who grew up in France with Charlie Hebdo, Dominique Vidal, described the publication as “very disrespectful. But very funny. They’re disrespectful of everybody. And they’re just cartoons, you know?”
On Saturday, sympathizing Portlanders flocked to Pioneer Courthouse Square carrying signs and candles to commemorate the slain journalists.
An organizer of the Portland rally, Vincent Galopin, immigrated from France to the U.S. six years ago. “It’s not just an attack on a newspaper. It’s an attack on a symbol,” Galopin told The Oregonian. “It’s really about freedom of speech.”