Charlie Hebdo: The Provocative Anniversary Issue Cover

Charlie Hebdo is planning to mark the first anniversary of the January 7 terrorist attack with a provoking cover of their special edition. The edition will mark a year since brothers Chérif and Saïd Kouachi burst into Charlie Hebdo’s offices in eastern Paris and killed 12 people, including eight of the magazine’s staff. The attack was claimed by an Al-Qaida branch in the Arabian Peninsula.

The cover portrays a bearded figure with a Kalashnikov hanging across his back. The image is in black and white, with the exception of splashes of blood on the man’s robes. The 32 pages long edition features cartoons by Charlie Hebdo staff who died in the attack, as well as designs by current cartoonists.

The attack on January 7, 2015 came after a 2011 firebombing, eventually forcing Charlie Hebdo to move its office premises. Its staff too had been under police protection after publishing cartoons of the prophet Muhammad in 2006.

A policewoman was murdered by another extremist on the next day. He also took hostages at the HyperCacher supermarket on January 9, killing four of them, before eventually being shot dead by the police. The evaded Charlie Hebdo gunmen were killed the same afternoon by other police in a printing plant north of Paris.

The Huffington Post reported that the new publishing director Laurent Sourisseau, who was present at the meeting that saw eight of his colleagues slayed and seriously wounded himself, has also penned a stinging editorial in defence of secularism. It denounces “fanatics brutalised by the Koran” as well as those from other religions who hoped for the death of the magazine for “daring to laugh at the religious.” He took over the management of the weekly after the attack.

Blaming the God for the attack, the headline says.

“One year later, the assassin is still on the run,”

The Guardian reported that the magazine’s staff feel unsupported in their struggle. Eric Portheault, the financial director, who escaped death by hiding behind his desk when the gunmen stormed in, said,

“We feel terribly alone. We hoped that others would do satire too. No one wants to join us in this fight because it’s dangerous. You can die doing it.”

Charlie Hebdo will print approximately one million copies to be sold globally in honour of its deceased colleagues. The Independent reported that a number of other commemorative measures have been announced for the first anniversary of the tragedy.

Tributes of drawings, flowers, pens and candles in front of the Charlie Hebdo offices on January 14, 2015 [Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images]

France will mark the anniversary of the attack this week.Commemorative plaques will be unveiled on Tuesday in a special ceremony as family members and government officials gather to pay tribute to the deceased. President Francois Hollande is also due to attend. He will unveil another plaque in memory of the murdered policewoman on Saturday. On January 10, a tree of remembrance is due to be planted by the Paris Mayor’s office. Last Friday, The Legion of Honor, France’s highest decoration was awarded posthumously to the victims.

A month before the shootings, Charlie Hebdo was nearing a shutdown as sales fell below 30,000. Its brand of provocative, unrestricted humour appeared to have become outdated. But the horrific attack changed everything across the world. Donations poured in for the victims. The first issue published after the attack was bought by 7.5 million people and 200,000 people signed up for a subscription.

It will be interesting to observe the amount of support the anniversary issue of Charlie Hebdo receives in the light of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015, which killed 130 people.

[Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/Getty Images]