Charlie Hebdo sticks to its pencils

A week after the killing of eight of its journalists, Charlie Hebdo staff have published a “survival issue” of the French satirical magazine that adds poignancy to its usual irreverence and vulgar sense of humour.

But the edition, kept to the usual 16 pages, is otherwise classic Charlie: from the front cover by surviving cartoonist Luz that portrays the Prophet Muhammad – one of its favourite satirical targets in recent years – and throughout the edition, which is peppered with its typically cheeky and ribald drawings.

Nobody is sacred: they mock figures from Sister Emmanuelle to the pope, Angela Merkel and Madonna, and take comic revenge over the jihadis who burst into their offices last week. Three of them are shown plotting in typically Muslim garb; one says: “We mustn’t touch the people from Charlie Hebdo.” The reply is: “If we do, they’ll become martyrs and once they get to paradise they’ll steal all our virgins.”

The gunmen killed 12 people in and around the magazine offices on Wednesday January 7 .

The special edition has a centre spread of cartoons devoted to the turbulent events of the past few days. “Sunday 11th January, more people for ‘ Charlie‘ than for mass,” the headline says across two pages, which thanks people for their support and solidarity by turning out for a unity march that attracted more than four million people across France.

A drawing of the Arc de Triomphe is emblazoned with the words “Paris is Charlie”. Underneath, the flame in honour of the unknown soldier has a speech bubble saying: “I’ve got an erection.”

One cartoon strip features Charlie‘s regular “shrink” columnist, Elsa Cayat, with a terrorist on her couch telling her: “I had a dream that I was killing Charlie Hebdo.” The psychiatrist seeks a deeper meaning when the terrorist says: “I didn’t kill the dog. There was a dog in the office. A cocker spaniel with long hair and big ears.” She replies: “And so you had a vision of your mother’s sexual organs, right?”

Spared by the gunmen
One surviving writer, Sigolène Vinson, was spared by the two gunmen, “possibly because she was a female”. The terrorists told Vinson that they would not kill her because she was a woman. But Cayat did not escape the jihadis’ bullets.

The paper has published a column under Cayat’s name, and the late editor Stéphane Charbonnier makes a passing appearance, saying: “I am everywhere and nowhere.” It also contains a moving piece by the weekly’s regular “emergency” columnist, Patrick Pelloux, a doctor still reeling from the sight of his dying colleagues, whom he was unable to save.

The paper’s editorial by Gérard Biard, the chief editor, who was on holiday in London when the attack occurred, demonstrates that despite the tragedy the journalists have not lost their sense of humour.


Charlie, “an atheist paper, is accomplishing more miracles than all the saints and prophets together”, he says, adding that all the staff had a good laugh when the bells of Notre Dame pealed in memory of the dead during a nationwide minute’s silence.

“We want to send a message to Pope Francis, who also ‘is Charlie‘ this week: we will only accept the Notre Dame bells pealing in our honour if the Femen [the feminist protest group founded in Ukraine] are allowed to ring them.”

Deaths in vain
On a serious note, Biard says he fears that his colleagues’ deaths, which prompted such a global outpouring, may have been in vain. Already on the internet, he says, there are conspiracy theorists saying the attack was part of a Jewish-American-Western plot.

Charlie Hebdo is attempting to remain optimistic in these dark days. In a passionate appeal for France’s brand of secularism, which underpins the republic, Biard says: “We hope that from 7 January 2015 the firm defence of laicity [secularism] will be obvious for everybody.

“All the millions of people who have said ‘I am Charlie‘ since last Wednesday must know that the expression also stands for ‘I am laicity’.”

Charlie Hebdo‘s brand of humour has never been to everybody’s taste, and the weekly had been struggling to keep going with a readership of only 60 000. With this edition, which is to have a print run of five million and will be sold all over the world, the magazine has been reborn. – © Guardian News & Media 2015

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Advertising

ConCourt settles the law on the public protector and interim...

The Constitutional Court said it welcomed robust debate but criticised the populist rhetoric in the battle between Busisiwe Mkhwebane and Minister Pravin Gordhan

Where is the deputy president?

David Mabuza is hard at work — it’s just not taking place in the public eye. The rumblings and discussion in the ANC are about factions in the ruling party, succession and ousting him
Advertising

Press Releases

Covid-19 and Back to School Webinar

If our educators can take care of themselves, they can take care of the children they teach

5G technology is the future

Besides a healthcare problem Covid-19 is also a data issue and 5G technology, with its lightning speed, can help to curb its spread

JTI off to court for tobacco ban: Government not listening to industry or consumers

The tobacco ban places 109 000 jobs and 179 000 wholesalers and retailers at risk — including the livelihood of emerging farmers

Holistic Financial Planning for Professionals Webinar

Our lives are constantly in flux, so it makes sense that your financial planning must be reviewed frequently — preferably on an annual basis

Undeterred by Covid-19 pandemic, China and Africa hold hands, building a community of a shared future for mankind

It is clear that building a community with a shared future for all mankind has become a more pressing task than ever before

Wills, Estate Administration and Succession Planning Webinar

Capital Legacy has had no slowdown in lockdown regarding turnaround with clients, in storing or retrieving wills and in answering their questions

Call for Expression of Interest: Training supply and needs assessment to support the energy transition in South Africa

GIZ invites eligible and professional companies with local presence in South Africa to participate in this tender to support the energy transition

Obituary: Mohammed Tikly

His legacy will live on in the vision he shared for a brighter more socially just future, in which racism and discrimination are things of the past

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday