As French journalists band together to publish the first issue of Charlie Hebdo since last Wednesday’s massacre, a long-time contributor “cannot believe” news outlets in Britain are refusing to show the satirical magazine’s latest front cover.
Up to 50 times as many copies as usual of the weekly are being published, all bearing a front-page cartoon that appears to show the Prophet Muhammad with a tear on his cheek and holding a “Je Suis Charlie” sign. It appears under the headline “Tout est Pardonne” [“All is Forgiven”].
Many news outlets have already re-published the cartoon but others, including this newspaper, Associated Press and Sky News, have said they do not intend to.
Journalist and columnist Caroline Fourest said the magazine’s staff received death threats in 2006 when they re-published a Danish newspaper’s cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. But the stakes are far higher now, she said.
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“This time it’s even more important to refuse the threats and the intimidation, in memory of our colleagues,” she said.
Ms Fourest said she is disappointed some news outlets are refusing to run today’s cartoon, adding that the hold-outs were mainly in the US and UK.
“There are many newspapers who are not protecting us,” she said. “I think it’s really the saddest reaction [I’ve seen] since my colleagues passed away. I just cannot believe it, that journalists or newspapers aren’t going to continue the work of Charlie Hebdo.” She did not contribute to the special edition but has kept in contact with the survivors of the attack on the editorial offices and seen some of the cartoons that will be published today.
“Some of the cartoons I saw on the walls that they were working on – it was three days after the slaughter, and some were already very funny.
“They are incredibly talented. [The gunmen] killed off almost a whole generation of cartoonists but believe me, there are some very talented cartoonists still living,” she said.
Though many Muslims have decried the new cartoon as a provocation, Ms Fourest believes Charlie Hebdo’s approach is the answer to Europe’s ongoing struggle between ultra-nationalism and xenophobia on one side and religious extremism on the other.
“Charlie Hebdo found [that balance], and by attacking Charlie Hebdo the terrorists attacked the most powerful enemy they have got,” she said.
She added that no-one can say definitively the cartoon does depict Muhammad, and thinks the Charlie Hebdo team deliberately created an image that is open to different interpretations.