The latest edition of Charlie Hebdo, a French leftist weekly that satirizes politicians and religious figures, sold out of 3 million copies on the first day of its release since a terrorist attack on January 7. Observers expect that all five million copies of the special edition will be sold out. It was last week that 12 persons were shot to death at the magazine's headquarters, including the editor and the most beloved cartoonists. The magazine is best known for its scatological cartoons that mock Muhammed - the founder of Islam. The two terrorists who shot to death magazine staff and police officers at the scene claimed that they carried out the attack to avenge the Muslim figure. Editor Stephane Charbonnier and other magazine staffers had lived with death threats for several years until finally meeting their doom last week. Another edition of the magazine is due within the next few days, while editions in English, Arabic, Italian and Spanish are planned.

Today's edition featured a cartoon of Mohammed bearing a sign that read "All is forgiven", when translated from the original French. Muslim commentators, while deploring the violence perpetrated last week - in which a second terrorist incident claimed the lives of four innocent people at a kosher supermarket - they denounced the publication for unnecessary provocation of religious sentiments.

In Britain, Anjem Choudary a Muslim preacher was was the leader of a banned radical group reportedly said that the new image of Muhammed published by Charlie Hebod constitutes “an act of war” and should be punished by death after a judgement by a Muslim 'Shariah' court. Chourdary has come under criticism in the past for his incendiary remarks about the Allied coalition currently assisting Iraqi forces to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, as well as his denunciation of Israel.

Also in the UK, a Muslim coffee shop owner received a death threat for merely writing "Je suis Charlie" (I'm Charlie) on a blackboard in front of his shop on a London sidewalk, according to The Independent.

Muslims and Muhammed have not been the only targets of Charlie Hebdo, which has represented a particularly outspoken form of what the French call 'laicite", which has been translated variously as 'secularism' and 'anti-clericalism.' The French Republic was founded on a profound hatred of religion, especially the Catholic faith. The latest edition of Charlie Hebdo engaged in some of the same anti-Catholic or anti-clerical sentiment in a comment published on its editiorial page. The special edition of the magazine made jest of Pope Francis. Last week, following the attacks in Paris, the pontiff denounced the violence and offered prayers. 

In the magazine, the editors reference a recent protest by Femen, a group of feminist women that expose their breasts as a means of attracting attention to their cause of decriminalizing prostitution, pornography, and abortion. Last week Femen protesters stripped in protest at the iconic Notre Dame cathedral, while just before Christmas 2014 others stripped in front of the Nativity scene in front of St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican.
“What made us laugh the most is that the bells of Notre Dame rang in our honor,” Charlie Hebod editors stated. “We would like to send a message to Pope Francis, who, too, was ‘Charlie’ this week: we only accept the bells of Notre Dame ringing in our honor when it is Femen who make them tinkle.”



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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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