The French magazine Charlie Hebdo, whose offices were stormed by Islamist gunmen in 2015 because it had previously published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, has announced it will republish the same cartoons to mark the start of the terror trial stemming from that day.
“We will never lie down. We will never give up,” editor Laurent “Riss” Sourisseau wrote in a piece to accompany the front cover that will be published in print on Wednesday.
Twelve people, including some of the magazine’s best-known cartoonists, were killed when Said and Cherif Kouachi stormed the Paris HQ of the satirical magazine on Jan. 7, 2015, and sprayed the building with automatic gunfire. In total, 17 people were killed during three days of bloodshed that marked the beginning of a wave of Islamist violence that was to leave scores more dead.
The day after the office attacks, Amedy Coulibaly, an acquaintance of Cherif Kouachi, killed a female police officer. On Jan. 9 he killed four Jewish men at a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris. In a video recording, Coulibaly said the attacks were coordinated and carried out in the name of Islamic State. The Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabic Peninsula claimed the Charlie Hebdo attack. The three attackers — Coulibaly and the Kouachi brothers — were killed by police in separate standoffs.
Now, as fourteen suspected accomplices to the French Islamist militants behind the attacks go on trial on Wednesday, the magazine has announced it will re-reprint the same cartoons which unleashed a wave of anger in the Muslim world when they first appeared in the mid-2000s. The cartoons are already visible online via Charlie Hebdo’s website, it has been reported.
The decision to republish the cartoons will be seen by some as a defiant gesture in defence of free expression. But others may see it as a renewed provocation by a magazine that has long courted controversy with its satirical attacks on religion. For Muslims, any depiction of the Prophet is blasphemous.
Zineb el Rhazoui, 38, who quit her job as a journalist at Charlie Hebdo two years after the attack, said she hoped her slain colleagues would be remembered as gentle, cultured human beings.
“If (the attackers) committed this butchery, it is because they believed in an ideology and this ideology will have to be put on trial. That’s what I’m waiting for,” she told Reuters.
Among the cartoons which appeared in Charlie Hebdo — most of which were first published by a Danish newspaper in 2005 and then by Charlie Hebdo in 2006 — is one of Mohammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban with a lit fuse protruding. Muslims have previously said the turban cartoon branded all Muslims as terrorists, as did a Charlie Hebdo cartoon showing the Prophet reacting to Islamist militants by saying: “It’s hard to be loved by idiots.”