Charlie Hebdo: The Radical Spirit of France's History of Satire

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Charlie Hebdo: The Radical Spirit of France's History of Satire

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People queue up to buy the newest edition of Charlie Hebdo. (Associated Press)

Paris, France:  Fabienne, a Parisian who designs hats, spent three hours cycling around the city looking for a copy of Charlie Hebdo's latest edition but couldn't find it.

All copies were sold out within minutes of the release of the 'survivors' edition' on Wednesday, exactly a week after two jihadists attacked the office of the French satirical weekly and gunned down 12 people.

But fresh copies will soon be circulated and Fabienne will be able to read "every single one of the twelve pages". She got hooked on to the journal 20 years ago.

"I am not very good with politics but this journal allowed me to understand what was happening in the political world, in a funny way," she says.

Many have praised the surviving Charlie Hebdo team's courage for daring to preserve the journal's radical spirit. Some still maintain that its tone is inflammatory. For instance, the new edition hasn't gone down well with media in Saudi Arabia and Algeria.

In Paris, however, the weekly seems to have lifted spirits. Charlie Hebdo is part of a long tradition of satire in France, where, quite often, authors break all taboos. Their satire is dark and hard hitting.

"The liberty of the press has to pass through impertinence," says historian Christian Delporte, who says French courts are generally very lenient towards caricaturists who have been popular in France since the 1830s, during the time of French artist Honore Daumier.

Ingrid Therwath, who works for Courrier International, the French magazine that has taken up the task of translating the magazine into Arabic, says the new edition makes fun of everybody including heads of states, all religions and even themselves and also those who came out in their support after the recent attacks.

Ms Therwath says the Mohammad cartoon on the cover, which shows a weeping prophet, saying "All is forgiven" and holding up a placard saying "Je suis Charlie" (I am Charlie) is not offensive.

The "right to outrage", she believes, must be defended.



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