Charlie Hebdo returns to newsstands with satire and emotion

AFP , Wednesday 25 Feb 2015

Charlie Hebdo
The front page of the new issue of satirical French weekly Charlie Hebdo entitled "C'est Reparti" ("Here we go again"), is displayed at a kiosk in Nice February 25, 2015 (Photo: Reuters)

"We're back!". With those words -- and a cartoon depicting the pope, a jihadist and French far-right leader Marine Le Pen as a pack of enraged animals -- Charlie Hebdo marked its return Wednesday.

The team has lain low since rushing out a "survivors' issue" a week after the January 7 jihadist attack on its Paris office that killed 12 people, including some of France's best-loved cartoonists.

"We needed a break, a rest... There were those who needed to work again straight away, like me, and those who wanted to take more time," Gerard Biard, the paper's new chief editor, said earlier this month.

"So we reached a compromise, and agreed on February 25... to start off again on a weekly basis."

Charlie Hebdo has a long history of courting controversy by lampooning political and religious figures of all stripes, and the new 16-page issue was no exception.

Former president Nicolas Sarkozy, who has been criticised for giving lucratively-paid conferences abroad, was just one of the victims -- pictured at a speaking stand, his feet on a stair-shaped wad of cash.

The issue also took a swipe at unemployment in France, Catholics and their aversion to extramarital affairs website Gleeden, Le Pen and jihadists.

It also featured an interview with Greece's new anti-austerity Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis.

"During the Middle Ages, 'doctors' prescribed bloodletting, which often caused the patient's health to deteriorate, to which the 'doctor' responded with other bloodlettings," Varoufakis was quoted as saying.

"That's the type of 'reasoning' that today perfectly illustrates Europe's attitude: the more austerity fails, the more it is prescribed."

The magazine also carried a poignant message of thanks to all those who supported it after the attack by the Kouachi brothers, who said they were taking revenge for the weekly's past depictions of the Prophet Mohammed -- considered blasphemous in Islam.

"Thanks to those kindergarten kids who clubbed together to give us a donation. Thanks to the young boy who sent us five euros of his pocket money," it read.

The Islamist attacks last month claimed the lives of a total of 17 people, including four Jews gunned down at a kosher supermarket and a policewoman.

The new issue is due to get a print run of 2.5 million and will be published as far afield as the United States.

The magazine's "survivors' issue", which came out on January 14, saw newsstands overwhelmed by demand as people across the country rushed out before dawn to snap up their copy.

On Wednesday, though, sales of Charlie Hebdo were far more subdued.

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