(Reuters) — The first edition of Charlie Hebdo published after last week’s deadly attack by Islamist gunmen sold out within minutes at newspaper kiosks around France on Wednesday, with readers queuing up for copies to support the satirical weekly.
It came as Al Qaeda in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it ordered the killings because it deemed the weekly had insulted the Prophet Mohammad. A total five million copies of so-called “the survivors’ edition” are to be printed, dwarfing the normal 60,000 print run.
“I’ve never bought it before, it’s not quite my political stripes, but it’s important for me to buy it today and support freedom of expression,” said David Sullo, standing at the end of a queue of two dozen people at a kiosk in central Paris.
“It’s important for me to buy it and show solidarity by doing so, and not only by marching,” said 42-year old Laurent in the same queue, adding he had no guarantee he would get a copy because he had not reserved one the day before.
A few streets away, by Jules Joffrin metro station in northern Paris, one newspaper seller said people were already waiting outside her shop when she opened at 6:00 am (0500 GMT). “I had 10 copies - they were sold immediately,” she said.
Two Islamist gunmen killed 12 people in an attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7. A third gunman later killed a policewoman and seized a kosher supermarket, killing four civilians. All three attackers were killed in police raids.
In a video posted on YouTube, Al Qaeda in Yemen said its leadership had ordered last Wednesday’s attack.
“As for the blessed Battle of Paris, we, the Organization of al Qaeda al Jihad in the Arabian Peninsula, claim responsibility for this operation as vengeance for the Messenger of God,” said Nasser bin Ali al-Ansi, a leader of the Yemeni branch of al Qaeda (AQAP) in the recording.
Ansi, the main ideologue for AQAP, said without elaborating that the strike was carried out in “implementation” of the order of overall al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri, who has called for strikes by Muslims in the West using any means they can find.
It was not immediately possible to verify the authenticity of the recording, which carried the logo of the al Qaeda’s media group al-Malahem.
The front page of Charlie Hebdo’s Jan. 14 edition shows a cartoon of a tearful Mohammad with a sign reading “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie) below the headline: “Tout est pardonné” (All is forgiven).
“I wrote ‘all is forgiven’ and I cried,” Renald “Luz” Luzier, who created the image, told a news conference on Tuesday at the weekly’s temporary office at left-wing daily Liberation.
“This is our front page … it’s not the one the terrorists wanted us to draw,” he said. “I’m not worried at all … I trust people’s intelligence, the intelligence of humor.”
At least 3.7 million people marched through France on Sunday to honor the memory of the victims.
Inside the edition, the weekly’s usual irreverent humor was on display. One cartoon shows jihadists saying: “We shouldn’t touch Charlie people … otherwise they will look like martyrs and, once in heaven, these bastards will steal our virgins.”
“What makes us laugh most is that the bells of Notre-Dame rang in our honor,” the newspaper, which emerged from the 1968 counter-culture movement and has long mocked all religions and pillars of the establishment, wrote in an editorial.
All proceeds from the sale of this week’s edition will go directly to Charlie Hebdo, in a windfall for a publication that had been struggling financially, after distributors decided to waive their cut. The cover price was three euros ($4). A call for donations has also been aired on national media.
In Charenton on the eastern edge of Paris, queues formed in the early morning darkness at the normally quiet newspaper stand near the metro, until people got closer to a notice by the door saying “Charlie Hebdo: none left.”
Digital versions will be posted in English, Spanish and Arabic, with print editions in Italian and Turkish.
While many French people enthusiastically supported the weekly’s decision to put another cartoon of Mohammad on its first cover after the attacks, there were some who objected or expressed concern that it would provoke more tension.
Dieudonne M’bala M’bala - a French comedian who has been convicted in the past for anti-Semitic comments - was detained for questioning on Wednesday for writing on his Facebook account “Je suis Charlie Coulibaly,” adding the surname of one of the gunmen to the ubiquitous “I am Charlie” vigil slogan.
Bordeaux mosque rector Tareq Oubrou urged French Muslims not to overreact.
“I don’t think the prophet of Islam needs stupid or excited reactions,” he told BFM-TV. “Freedom has its down sides and we must live with them.”
Egypt’s Grand Mufti on Tuesday warned the newspaper against publishing a new Mohammad caricature, saying it was a racist act that would incite hatred and upset Muslims around the world.
This story "Charlie Hebdo's New 'All Is Forgiven' Issue Sells Out in Seconds" was written by Ingrid Melander and Emmanuel Jarry.