Defiant Charlie Hebdo to run Mohammed on front cover

Defiant Charlie Hebdo to run Mohammed on front cover

French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo is publishing a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed on the cover of its first issue since Islamic extremists killed 12 people at its offices.

The surviving staff of the magazine are to print an unprecedented three million copies of its upcoming issue.

The newspaper Liberation hosted Charlie Hebdo staff as they prepared the new issue and is handling its special multi-million-copy print run in numerous languages.

Liberation published the Charlie Hebdo cover online late last night, ahead of the satirical magazine’s publication tomorrow.

The cartoon shows a bearded man in a white turban with a tear streaming down his cheek, and holding a sign reading “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie). Overhead was the phrase “Tout est Pardonne” (All is Forgiven), which French media interpreted as meaning Mohammed is forgiving the cartoonists for lampooning him.

Charlie Hebdo’s past caricatures of the Muslim prophet appear to have prompted last week’s attacks, part of the worst terrorist rampage in France in decades.

Some witnesses reported that the attackers at the paper’s offices shouted: “We have avenged the prophet.” Many Muslims believe all images of the prophet are blasphemous.

Earlier, Charlie Hebdo lawyer Richard Malka told French radio that the new issue would “obviously” feature cartoons of Mohammed.

A total of 17 people died in last week’s attacks. Brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi and their friend Amedy Coulibaly were killed on Friday by police after the murderous rampage at Charlie Hebdo’s Paris offices and a kosher supermarket. The three all claimed ties to Islamic extremists in the Middle East.

French police have said as many as six members of a terrorist cell involved in the attacks may still be at large.

France saw its biggest demonstrations in history on Sunday as millions turned out to show unity and defend freedom of expression.

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