THE FIRST print run of Charlie Hebdo sold out across France within minutes of the new edition going on sale – a week after the bloody massacre which killed twelve people at the publication’s Paris offices.
There were long queues at French newsagents to buy copies of the “survivors’ edition” featuring a front cover cartoon of the prophet Muhammad.
However, the “survivors’ issue” has angered some Muslims by depicting the prophet.
Distributors revealed that only a couple of hundred copies were likely to be available in Britain, but a digital edition translated into English was expected to be made available for download today. Supporters of the satirical magazine clamoured to get their hands on the first edition to be produced since gunmen Cherif and Said Kouachi burst in on an editorial meeting last Wednesday.
Three million copies of the magazine had been due to be printed, its largest-ever run, with translations also given away with partner newspapers in Italy and Turkey. Last last night, it emerged five million copies are now to be produced.
The front-page cartoon is headlined “All is forgiven” and depicts a weeping Muhammad holding a sign bearing the slogan “Je Suis Charlie”, which has become a mantra for those in support of freedom of speech in the wake of the attacks.
Edinburgh-based newspaper distributor Menzies said it was expecting 100 copies to go on sale in British shops. Menzies covers half of the UK, including Scotland and half of London, while the rest is serviced by rival Smiths News.
It is likely that Smiths, which was not yesterday returning calls, will receive a similar number. It has previously said it would receive “a very limited supply”.
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A spokesman for Menzies said it could not yet confirm when the publication would arrive in the UK.
He said: “We don’t have a confirmed time that we will receive delivery. We have been told that we will receive 100 copies for the UK. We are currently trying to decide where these copies are going to go.”
WH Smith has said it does not normally stock Charlie Hebdo and would not sell this week’s special edition, but smaller foreign book stores and newsagents are likely to try to stock it – although it is unlikely many of them will be able to procure copies.
Charlie Hebdo’s editor-in-chief Gerard Biard said the latest edition had been “drawn up in pain and joy”.
Those who survived worked out of borrowed offices to put out the issue that appeared today with a print run of three million – more than 50 times the usual circulation. Another run was planned, a columnist said.
The magazine refused help from outside cartoonists, saying the next edition would be created only by “Charlie Hebdo people”. It had been offered contributions from around the world.
Cartoonist Renald “Luz” Luzier said he had drawn Muhammad as a “man who is crying”.
He added: “We are cartoonists and we like drawing little characters, just as we were as children.
“The terrorists, they were kids, they drew just like we did, just like all children do. At one point they lost their sense of humour. At one point they lost the soul of their child which allowed them to look at the world with a certain distance. I’m sorry we’ve drawn him yet again but the Muhammad we’ve drawn is a man who is crying.”
Edinburgh’s French Institute – which promotes French culture abroad – said it had contacted numerous international newsagents in Scotland but had been unable to find one planning to sell the magazine.
A spokeswoman said: “It is very difficult to get one. We have tried but we don’t know of anywhere that has got one.”
In Turkey, a court yesterday ordered a ban on access to websites showing Charlie Hebdo’s cover with the image of Muhammad. A court in the south-eastern city of Diyarbakir prohibited access to the four websites, the state-run Anadolu News Agency said.