By Staff Reporter
- As usual Turkey leads in assault on freedom of speech by barning websites printing latest cartoon of Prophet Mohammed
- Tunisia also bans websites publishing the cartoon
- Iran condemns the cartoon
- Air France orders 20,000 copies to distribute among passengers
Distributors are expanding the print run for the first issue of Charlie Hebdo since last week’s terror attacks in France to as many as 5 million copies, after heavy demand led the newspaper to sell out within minutes from most newsstands in France on Wednesday.
Following the attack by masked gunmen at Charlie Hebdo’s Paris office a week ago in which eight of its staff died, the newspaper has become a symbol in France and elsewhere of free expression, leading to protests world-wide under the slogan “Je suis Charlie,” or “I am Charlie.”
The solidarity has sent demand for its new issue skyrocketing. Two additional plants are now printing the weekly newspaper—making four in total—which will allow for a second print run over the course of Wednesday, said Michel Salion, a spokesman for distributor MLP.
As many as 1 million copies will be distributed on Wednesday, with a total of 3 million expected by Saturday, Mr. Salion said. Depending on demand, future printings could bring total distribution to 5 million, he added.
“We will keep printing every day to satisfy demand,” Mr. Salion said.
Charlie Hebdo didn’t pull any punches with its first post-attack edition, which will have a wider distribution internationally than before, including sales in the U.S. for the first time.
Putting a caricature of Muhammad on the cover is the same act that one of the assailants in last week’s attack said motivated the killings. This time the prophet holds a sign saying “Je suis Charlie.”
Inside, the newspaper ran illustrations by those who died in last week’s attack, including one by Bernard Verlhac, known by the name Tignous, that mocks the belief that Islamist martyrs are to be welcomed in heaven by virgin women, while referencing the publication’s long-running obsession with sex.
“Better not touch the guys from Charlie Hebdo,” says a man with a beard and a skull cap to similarly dressed men. “Otherwise, they’ll become martyrs, and once they’re in heaven these bastards will steal all our virgins.”
Security is a concern for the printers, whose names haven’t been disclosed, Mr. Salion said. The logistics center used by distributors is under police protection, he said.
Across France, people rushed to newsstands Wednesday morning to buy copies of the magazine. As early as 6.30 a.m. local time, it was difficult to find copies in the few newsstands already open in Paris. On auction website eBay, copies of Charlie Hebdo were already on sale between around €50 ($59) and €100. One auction on Wednesday morning topped €2,000.
Patrick Morault, who operates a newsstand on Paris’s Place de la Bastille, said he limited sales to two per person—and later one per person—and still exhausted the 70 copies he had received Wednesday morning within 15 minutes of opening.
“There was a line in front of the kiosk when I opened, which never happens,” Mr. Morault said. “I’ve never had that.”
David Beghin, who runs one of the stands in Gare de Lyon, a train station in eastern Paris, said the 75 copies he received Wednesday—up from eight on a normal week—had vanished 20 minutes after he opened at 6 a.m. “People came to buy copies by the dozen,” he said.
Other newsstands across the French capital and in cities such as Montpellier also had no copies left.
‘We will keep printing every day to satisfy demand.’
Some consumers expressed frustration with difficulty in finding copies, while vendors grumbled that they hadn’t been allotted enough, and were being forced to waive their fees to give the full cover price to the newspaper.
“People are furious, some insulted me,” said news kiosk owner Evelyne Revel, who said she sold out of her supply in eastern Paris within minutes. “Never in my life have I seen this.”
People of all nationalities were queuing up to buy the paper. Rob Hunter, an Australian tourist, spent two hours of his vacation standing in the rain outside a kiosk in the Paris Opera.
“I asked my friend if I could get him anything from Paris and he said he wanted a Charlie Hebdo,” said Mr. Hunter. “I am not sure what he is going to do with it. He doesn’t speak French.”