Thanks in part to funding from the Google-backed Digital Innovation Press Fund, French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo printed 3 million copies this week–a breathtaking jump from its typical weekly run of 60,000 prior to the bloody terrorist attack on its office on January 7 that killed 12, decimating its staff. Copies in France have already sold out, hours after they became available, The Guardian reports.
On the cover of the edition, the first since the tragedy, is a cartoon of the Muslim prophet Muhammad crying as he holds a sign that says “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie). Above him is the text “Tout est pardonne” (all is forgiven).
“I looked at him [Muhammad], and he was crying,” the cartoonist who drew the cover told journalists. “Above, I wrote: ‘All is forgiven’. And then I cried.”
The edition is dedicated to terror in Charlie Hebdo’s typically irreverent style, with the last page showing disappointed terrorists arriving in heaven only to be told that their promised 70 virgins are “with the Charlie team.”
According to The Guardian, newsstands in France have inundated with customers looking to buy the new issue, with some people lining up before sunrise. Now the magazine may increase its projected print run to 5 million copies. The price of the issue on Ebay has reportedly surpassed $1,100.
Yet this strong showing of support for the magazine—including untold millions posting messages on social media to the effect of “I am Charlie” and urging their contacts to do so—has also triggered some backlash, even among staunch advocates of free speech and human rights. Some have pointed out that certain Charlie Hebdo cartoons—e.g., a cover making fun of girls abducted into sexual slavery by the Boko Haram militants in Nigeria—constitute problematic expressions of free speech that need to be criticized as well.
“We have a problem where we feel like everything has to be boiled down into black-and-white ‘sides’ and where the enemy of your enemy must be your friend, where in order to condemn the actions of horrible murderers we have to elevate their victims into sainthood,” wrote comedian and blogger Arthur Chu in The Daily Beast.
World leaders marched on January 11 in front of a crowd of about 1.6 million in Paris (some 3.7 million demonstrated in all of France) in support of free speech and in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo and other victims of recent terror.