Charlie Hebdo, which has long made its name in eviscerating all comers — showing no fear or favour — has reprinted a series of cartoons for which it is particularly known: depicting and satirising Islam’s Mohammed. The cartoons — which are prohibited in Islam as haram — were cited by the Muslim gunmen who attacked the offices of the newspaper in 2015, killing 12.
It was not the first time the magazine had been attacked. Indeed, the publication hired professional protection after their offices had been firebombed in 2011. Regardless, the security guard present at the office on January 7th, 2015, was killed by terror attackers Cherif and Said Kouachi, alongside the editorial staff, cartoonists, and others.
The new edition will hit the newsstands on Wednesday, the first day of the trial of a group of 13 co-conspirators of the
Hebdo attack killers. French newspaper Le Figaro reports the mammoth trial will, beyond the 13 defendants, include 200 complainants and 150 witnesses and is expected to last over two months. Those facing trial are accused of supporting killers, including supplying weapons.
Three of those to be tried are believed to be in the Islamic State and their cases will be heard in absentia
reports that while Charlie Hebdo has been asked several times to print Mohammed cartoons since the attack, it only did so when it was newsworthy. Nevertheless, despite having come under attack in the most real possible sense over the cartoons, they were determined to do so now as those accused of helping the killers came to court.
‘Riss’ — real name Laurent Sourisseau, who was shot during the 2015 attack but survived and now edits the paper — said of the decision: “There was a need for a good reason to do it, a reason which has meaning and which brings something to the debate… to [reprint the pictures] this week at the opening of the trial of the January 2015 attacks, seemed essential to us.”
Charlie Hebdo editor said “We will never lie down. We will never give up” and said it would be cowardice to not print the pictures.
The images printed on the latest front cover are 12 Danish cartoons and one former
Charlie Hebdo original. The Dutch cartoons were originally published by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten as part of an exercise in free speech. The paper subsequently became a major target for Islamic extremists, and cartoonist Kurt Westergaard suffered several attempts on his life.
Speaking in 2015, ten years on from the controversy, Westergaard said he had no regrets about his art despite now having to live under constant police protection for drawing a picture of Mohammad.