The Prophet Mohammed, with a tear in his eye, is on the front cover of the first Charlie Hebdo edition published since Islamic extremists killed 12 people at the satirical magazine's offices in Paris.
French newspaper Libération published the Charlie Hebdo cover online late Monday night, ahead of the satirical magazine's sale on Wednesday. The cartoon shows a bearded man in a white turban, ostensibly the Prophet, with a tear streaming down his cheek, and holding a sign reading "Je suis Charlie". Overhead is the phrase: "Tout est Pardonne" - "All is Forgiven".
Many newspapers in Europe and the United States have chosen to publish the magazine's front cover, though only the Independent in Britain chose to print it. Speaking on the Radio 4 Today programme, London Mayor Boris Johnson said that the magazine had "no choice" but to publish a cartoon of the Muslim prophet.
But one of the magazine's columnists, Zineb El Rhazoui, who was on holiday in Morocco during the attack, said that the team did not feel obliged to use such a cartoon while they were putting the issue together. "It wasn't necessary, no, it was important though," she said.
The cover was announced with a flourish in their temporary newsroom at the headquarters of Libération. One of the magazine's senior editors Gérard Biard, told the New York Times: “We asked ourselves: ‘What do we want to say? What should we say? And in what way?’ About the subject, unfortunately, we had no doubt.
“We don’t know how to do anything but laugh. We decided that we would do a normal edition, not a memorial issue. They killed people who drew cartoon characters. That’s it. That’s all these guys do."
Several staff members are still seriously ill in hospital. Simon Fieschi, the magazine's social media and web editor, is in a medically induced coma following surgery after a bullet ricocheted off his spinal vertebrae and perforated one of his lungs. Fabrice Nicolino, an environmental reporter for the weekly, has had to have part of his legs amputated, and Philippe Lançon, the TV columnist, was shot in the face but is expected to pull through. Cartoonist Laurent Sourriseau, known as Riss, was shot in the shoulder and is still recovering.
The publication of the magazine, in such dire circumstances, has been described as a victory for free expression.
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