'Charlie Hebdo points finger at God'
Paris - The satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo will mark a year since the massacre within its offices with a cover featuring a God-like figure in bloodied robes, toting an assault rifle.
In an anniversary issue published tomorrow, the fiercely secular magazine assails religion, with the headline reading: “One year on, the murderer is still on the loose.”
Although the magazine shrank from publishing a fresh image of the Prophet Mohamed - something it did on its first cover after the attack - its front page was criticised as “unhelpful” by the most senior Muslim leader in France. Anouar Kbibech, president of the Conseil Français du Culte Musulman, said: “Across the world, we need gestures of appeasement and togetherness… This cartoon attacks all believers of all religions”.
One year ago on Thursday Chérif and Said Kouachi burst into the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris and shot 12 people, including the magazine's editor and seven other staff members. Over the next two days, a gunman associated with the Kouachi brothers, Amédy Coulibaly, murdered a policewoman and killed four hostages at a Jewish supermarket in Paris.
Although the three days of mayhem have been overshadowed by the jihadist attacks in Paris on 13 November in which 130 people died - raising further questions about security in the city - there will be three days of commemorations in the French capital starting today.
President François Hollande will unveil plaques at the sites of the January attacks today. Large crowds are expected at the Place de la République on Sunday when Mr Hollande will preside over the planting of a 30ft memorial oak tree.
Johnny Hallyday, the 72-year-old French pop veteran, will perform “A Sunday in January”, a song about the millions of people who marched in protest after the Charlie and kosher supermarket attacks.
Charlie Hebdo's anniversary edition will have a print run of one million - many of which will be sold abroad. The magazine will republish cartoons by the four illustrators who died on 7 January last year, including the editor Stéphane Charbonnier , known as “Charb”. There are also articles from celebrities, including the actors Russell Banks, Isabelle Adjani, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Juliette Binoche.
The new editor, Laurent Sourisseau - known as Riss - who was seriously wounded on 7 January 2015, has written a leading article attacking “fanatics made into imbeciles by the Koran” but also “hypocrites of other faiths” who wanted to kill Charlie because it laughed at religion.
“The beliefs of atheists and lay campaigners can move more mountains than the faith of believers,” Riss writes.
“They will not see Charlie croak. Charlie will see them croak first.”