French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday published its first edition since Islamist gunmen killed 12 people in an attack on its offices, with a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed on the cover. Three million copies of the weekly, featuring on the front a weeping prophet holding up a sign saying "Je suis Charlie" ("I am Charlie") under the headline "All is forgiven", have been printed. The magazine was sold out in many parts of the capital minutes after going on sale.
A man holds a placard reading 'Freedom of the press is priceless, fundamentalism, of any kind, will not pass' as others hold up placards reading in French, 'I am Charlie' during a gathering at the Place de la Republique (Republic square) in Paris, on January 7, 2015. AFP Photo
"Je suis Charlie" is the slogan taken up by millions of supporters in France and around the world after eight of the magazine's journalists and cartoonists and four other people were shot dead last week. The gunmen who carried out the attack appear to have been motivated by the magazine publishing cartoons of the prophet in the past.
There are no other depictions of the prophet in the new edition, but many of the cartoons lampoon Islamist gunmen. The print run dwarfs Charlie Hebdo's normal run of around 60,000 copies, and the edition will also be available in English, Spanish, Italian, Arabic and Turkish. Newspaper sellers said demand was high.
"It was incredible. I had a queue of 60-70 people waiting for me when I opened at 5.45 am. I've never seen anything like it. All my 450 copies were sold out in 15 minutes," said a woman working at a kiosk in Gambetta metro station in Paris.
The magazine's surviving staff moved into the offices of Liberation newspaper to compile the edition, which they admitted had been an emotional experience.
Cartoonist Renald "Luz" Luzier said he cried after drawing the front cover. The first issue since the attack has stirred Muslim anger in some countries. Al-Azhar in Cairo, Sunni Islam's most prestigious centre of learning, warned that Charlie Hebdo's cartoons "stir up hatred" and "do not serve the peaceful coexistence between peoples."
French President Francois Hollande, center, flanked with security forces gestures, as he arrives outside the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo's office, in Paris, on January 7, 2015. (AP Photo)
Some Muslims feel any depiction of the prophet is sacrilege, and Egypt's state-backed Islamic authority Dar al-Ifta denounced "an unjustified provocation against the feelings of 1.5 billion Muslims."
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Tuesday the country was now engaged in a "war on terrorism", but stressed that Muslims would always have a home in France.
In a separate attack two days after Charlie Hebdo was targeted, four Jewish men were killed after an Islamist gunmen took hostages at a kosher supermarket. A policewoman was shot dead in a third shooting believed to have been carried out by the same attacker.
France, home to Europe's largest Jewish and Muslim communities, was shaken to the core by its worst terrorist attacks for decades.
On Tuesday, President Francois Hollande led a solemn ceremony paying tribute to the three police officers who lost their lives, while in Israel thousands turned out to mourn the four Jews killed during the siege in the store. Hollande said "France will never break, will never yield, never bend" in the face of the Islamist threat that is "still there, inside and outside" the country.
Charlie Hebdo, which lampoons everyone from the president to the pope, has become a symbol of freedom of expression in the wake of the bloodshed. Proceeds from the new edition will go to victims' families.
A man holds a placard reading "freedom of expression" during a rally in support of the victims of terrorist attack on French satyrical newspaper Charlie Hebdo at the Place de la Republique in Paris, on January 7, 2015. (AFP Photo)
Explaining the new front cover drawn in memory of his slain colleagues, who were some of France's best-known cartoonists, Luz said Tuesday: "Our Mohammed is above all just a guy who is crying. He is much nicer than the one followed (worshipped) by the gunmen."
A version of the new edition will be published in predominantly Muslim Turkey as an inset in the centre-left opposition daily Cumhuriyet, one of the Turkish paper's journalists said.
'Stir up hatred'
Muslim groups in France have urged their communities— which have already been targeted in dozens of incidents— to "stay calm and avoid emotive reactions" to the cartoon.
Valls called in a speech Tuesday for the country to pull together after the attack, arguing that "France is at war against terrorism, jihadism, radicalism... (not) Islam and Muslims". "I don't want Jews in this country to be scared, or Muslims to be ashamed" of their faith, he added.
He said France's intelligence capabilities and anti-terrorism laws would have to be strengthened and "clear failings" addressed. Questions have risen over how supermarket killer Amedy Coulibaly and the Charlie Hebdo gunmen, Said and Cherif Kouachi— who were known to French intelligence had been on a US terror watch list "for years"— had slipped through the cracks.
About 30,000 people take part in a unity rally (Marche Republicaine) on January 11, 2015 in the western French port of Brest in tribute to the victims of the three-day killing spree that ended on January 9, 2015. (AFP Photo)
Underlining the ongoing threat, France's biggest satirical weekly, "Le Canard Enchaine", said it received a death threat the day after the Charlie Hebdo attack.
The shootings have sent shockwaves through Europe and beyond, and France has deployed armed police to guard synagogues and Jewish schools and called up 10,000 troops to guard against other attacks.
German President Joachim Gauck told his country's Muslim community Tuesday that "we are all Germany" at a rally by 10,000 people to condemn the Paris jihadist attacks and take a stand against rising Islamophobia. European Union counter-terrorism chief Gilles de Kerchove told AFP jails had become "massive incubators" of radicalisation and there was no way to fully rule out such attacks. Coulibaly, a repeat offender, met Cherif Kouachi in prison where they both fell under the spell of a renowned jihadist.
While the Kouachis have been linked to the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Coulibaly claimed to have sworn allegiance to the Islamic State.
Video: Charlie Hebdo cartoonists on Prophet cover