In the words of Luz, one of the satirical magazine’s surviving cartoonists, the front cover is designed to “make the world laugh, not mourn”. It features a cartoon of a crying Prophet Muhammad, holding a paper reading “Je Suis Charlie” – “I am Charlie”. Above his head is a sign saying “Tout est pardonné” – “All is forgiven”.
International reaction to the latest edition has been strong and varied. Here are some examples…
The front page of Charlie Hebdo has been given coverage in most major British newspapers. However, only The Independent and left-leaning daily The Guardian published the images of the whole front cover. The latter issued the following warning:
“This article contains the image of the magazine cover, which some may find offensive.”
On The Daily Telegraph website, the image of Muhammad was cropped out.
The BBC news website chose not to print the cover. However a copy of the latest edition of Charlie Hebdo was held up briefly on the BBC Newsnight programme.
Despite a global call for the right of freedom of expression to be respected, many North American and other non-European publications also took the decision to refrain from publishing the cartoon.
Muslim leaders react
Dozens of imams have signed a letter urging British Muslims to respond with restraint, patience and tolerance to the front cover of Charlie Hebdo.
In the letter, released by the Muslim Council of Britain, the leaders wrote:
“Most Muslims will inevitably be hurt, offended and upset by the republication of the cartoons. But our reaction must be a reflection of the teachings of the gentle and merciful character of the Prophet (peace be upon him)”.
“Enduring patience, tolerance, gentleness and mercy, as was the character of our beloved Prophet (peace and Blessings be upon him), is the best and immediate way to respond.”
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel spoke of his “shock, dismay and terror” following the attacks on Charlie Hebdo. One major Belgian daily newspaper, Le Soir, published two pages of the magazine, along with the following justification:
“[We are acting] In defence of a principle. Being a link in this chain which proclaims: ‘not dead, life continues as before’.”
Le Soir also retweeted a mocking portrait of Flemish separatist Bart de Wever, in which he bears an uncanny resemblance to Adolf Hitler. De Wever’s comment on the image was a direct reference to reactions to the front page of Charlie Hebdo.
“Being mocked is the price of freedom, and we pay it gladly,” writes de Wever.
Germany, Switzerland, Austria:
Several German-speaking media outlets published the cover of the Charlie Hebdo magazine, sparking a discussion about how far satire should be allowed to go. Swiss paper Tagesanzeiger decided not to publish the cartoon: “Not because of fear, but because we realise the sensitivity of this issue [printing a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad]”.
There won’t be a German-language version of the Charlie Hebdo magazine, but the French version will be published in Austria, Germany and Switzerland.
The latest edition of Charlie Hebdo was not the number one topic in the Russian media. Online publications spoke of the attacks when they happened. However a week-long public holiday meant most major print media was shut and therefore did not publish.
Major news sites and television and radio blogs in the country generally condemn the assassinations, but stress that the cartoons do push boundaries. The general consensus appears to be that the caricatures of Muhammad are insulting to Muslims.
In Ukraine, we took a look at reactions on social media. Many users compared the Charlie Hebdo massacre with the shelling of a passenger bus in Volnovakha, eastern Ukraine: 12 people died in each incident.
Online, people are saying both sets of victims have been subjected to terrorism. The hashtag #JeSuisVolnovakha is becoming popular on Twitter and people are being called to march against terrorism in Kyiv on Sunday (January 18).
Turkish daily newspaper Cumhuriyet’s distribution vans were stopped and searched by police on Wednesday (January 14). Speculation was rife that caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad were printed in the special Turkish edition of Charlie Hebdo. The newspaper is distributing a selection of four pages in a show of solidarity.
Police allowed distribution to proceed after verifying that the satirical French newspaper’s controversial cover was not published in the Turkish edition. However small black-and-white versions of the image were tucked away in opinion columns inside Cumhuriyet.
The newspaper said:
“We feel very close to Charlie Hebdo since we have lost our journalists to terror in the past as well. To show our solidarity, we have decided to publish four pages of the latest issue. While preparing this selection, we respected freedom of faith and religious sensitivities.”
Charlie Hebdo was released in full in Italy in conjunction with daily newspaper ‘Il fatto Quotidiano’, which will make a donation to the families of those killed in the attack. It sold out and a further 200,000 copies will be distributed on Thursday.
In the Hispanic countries, the special edition of Charlie Hebdo has received widespread support.
Spain has saluted the quest for freedom of expression presented by the satirical magazine. In Equador, caricaturists used the situation to criticise press censorship under Rafael Correa’s government.
The ‘survivors’’ edition of Charlie Hebdo will be available in Portugal on Friday (January 16). According to Messageries Lyonnaises de Presse (MLP), 500 copies will be distributed. Not enough, say the country’s newsagents.
Egypt, Jordan, Morocco:
The official stance throughout the Middle East has been to condemn the publication of a cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad .
Egypt’s Grand Mufti warned newspapers against publishing the caricature, calling it a racist act that would incite hatred and upset Muslims around the world. Newspapers in Jordan and Morocco also denounced publication of the cartoon, although experts said the latest drawing does not project a negative image.
The policy of publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet has generally been followed. Nonetheless one Egyptian wanting to publicly remember the Charlie Hebdo victims, picked up a pencil and drew his own tribute.
Iran used the occasion to outline a firm stance against the West. Marzieh Afkham, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has condemned the cartoon on the Charlie Hebdo cover, saying the act will provoke the world’s Muslims. “Freedom of speech is abused by the West and it must be stopped,” she said.
On the contrary, in Greece the cartoon didn’t cause widespread controversy. This, our Greek colleague believes, is due to the relatively small minority Muslims represent in the country.
The Greek people wholeheartedly condemned the attacks. #JeSuisCharlie has been used extensively on social media and solidarity events were held at the Institut Français in Athens and Thessaloniki.
With Greece preparing for snap parliamentary elections, the attacks have been the subject of heated debates on the controversial issue of immigration.
Hungary also took the opportunity to deal with issues of immigration.
Charlie Hebdo is not widely known and Islam is not a focal point in public discourse. Nevertheless, on Wednesday (January 14) the front page of the leftist Népszabadság said Charlie was alive and well.
The front cover of the government-leaning Magyar Nemzet deviates, but still acknowledges the attack. It announces a government-initiated, five-party counter-terrorism meeting. The daily paper’s editorial states that Liberals are terrorising society with their opinions, making public debate on immigration control impossible, our Hungarian colleague reports.