Convenience Stores and Newsagents Association chief Vincent Jennings defended the decision, as the first edition of the controversial satirical magazine since last week’s lethal attacks went to press. A radical British activist claimed its publication was an “act of war”.
While Charlie Hebdo usually has a circulation of 60,000 and is limited to France, as an act of defiance and massive interest worldwide this week’s edition will have a 3m print run. The copies will be translated into 16 languages and be distributed in 20 countries worldwide.
Easons, which is making copies available in Ireland through UK firm Menzies and their EM joint venture distribution firm, said a number of stores nationwide have already ordered copies of Charlie Hebdo.
Due to the fact there remains some confusion over how many copies will be available outside France — with only between 700 and 1,200 reportedly being sent to Britain — the company was unable to clarify the numbers that will be on sale here.
However, Mr Jennings said while the sale of the satirical magazine is likely to bring criticism due to its depiction of Mohammed, it is not the job of newsagents to prevent people from buying what they want.
“We cannot act as a censor of what people want to access. We shouldn’t be the arbiters of taste.
“There was a problem a few years ago when an Irish content magazine that was salacious to say the least, but it is not up to newsagents to prevent people accessing something under the law.”
The newsagents official said that while the sale of the magazine may breach Ireland’s controversial blasphemy law, stores could potentially be open to legal action. However, he said newsagents “would normally rely on the fact that as long as the distributor’s legal people have allowed it” there was no issue.
The radical British muslim activist Anjem Choudary warned the publication was an “act of war” which would result in capital punishment under Sharia law.
However, in Ireland, three Irish Muslim groups have both said while they do not want the cartoons either published in Charlie Hebdo or reprinted in other media outlets, they would never act outside the law.
Dr Ali Selim, of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland, who last week said he would take legal advice if anyone published or distributed the cartoons in this country, clarified he simply meant he would write a letter of complaint which may then be acted on by the gardaí — and would not personally take someone to court.
The Irish Council of Imams said it does “not accept violence as a way to deal with issues” but wanted a society in Ireland that represented “the concept of pluralism” — including respecting muslim beliefs.
In a statement, the Islamic Educational and Cultural Centre Ireland said while it believed in free speech there was “no such thing as absolute free speech”