Logo of the weekly Charlie Hebdo
|Type||Satirical weekly magazine
|Editor||Gerard Biard (fr)|
Charlie Hebdo (French pronunciation: [ʃaʁli ɛbˈdo]; French for Charlie Weekly) is a French satirical weekly magazine, featuring cartoons, reports, polemics, and jokes. Irreverent and stridently non-conformist in tone, the publication describes itself as above all secular and atheist, far-left-wing, and anti-racist publishing articles on the extreme right (especially the French nationalist National Front party), religion (Catholicism, Islam, Judaism), politics, culture, etc. According to its former editor Stéphane Charbonnier ("Charb"), the magazine's editorial viewpoint reflects "all components of left wing pluralism, and even abstainers".
The magazine has been the target of two terrorist attacks, in 2011 and in 2015, presumed to be in response to a number of controversial Muhammad cartoons it published. In the second of these attacks, 12 people were killed, including Charbonnier and several contributors.
Charlie Hebdo first appeared in 1970 as a successor to the Hara-Kiri magazine, which was banned for mocking the death of former French President Charles de Gaulle. In 1981 publication ceased, but the magazine was resurrected in 1992. The magazine's current editor-in-chief is Gerard Biard (fr). The previous editors were François Cavanna (1969–1981) and Philippe Val (1992–2009). The magazine is published every Wednesday, with special editions issued on an unscheduled basis.
- 1 Origins in Hara-Kiri
- 2 Rebirth
- 3 Legal cases
- 4 Muhammad cartoons and aftermath
- 5 Current staff
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
- 9 External links
Origins in Hara-Kiri
In 1960, Georges "Professeur Choron" Bernier and François Cavanna launched a monthly magazine entitled Hara-Kiri. Choron acted as the director of publication and Cavanna as its editor. Eventually Cavanna gathered together a team which included Roland Topor, Fred, Jean-Marc Reiser, Georges Wolinski, Gébé (fr), and Cabu. After an early reader's letter accused them of being "dumb and nasty" ("bête et méchant"), the phrase became an official slogan for the magazine and made it into everyday language in France.
Hara-Kiri was briefly banned in 1961, and again for six months in 1966. A few contributors did not return along with the newspaper, such as Gébé, Cabu, Topor, and Fred. New members of the team included Delfeil de Ton (fr), Pierre Fournier (journaliste) (fr), and Willem.
In 1969, the Hara-Kiri team decided to produce a weekly publication – on top of the existing monthly magazine – which would focus more on current affairs. This was launched in February as Hara-Kiri Hebdo and renamed L'Hebdo Hara-Kiri in May of the same year. (Hebdo is short for hebdomadaire – "weekly")
In November 1970, the former French president Charles de Gaulle died in his home village of Colombey-les-Deux-Églises, eight days after a disaster in a nightclub, the Club Cinq-Sept fire, which caused the death of 146 people. The magazine released a cover spoofing the popular press's coverage of this disaster, headlined "Tragic Ball at Colombey, one dead." As a result, the weekly was banned.
In order to sidestep the ban, the editorial team decided to change its title, and used Charlie Hebdo. The new name was derived from a monthly comics magazine called Charlie (later renamed Charlie Mensuel, meaning Charlie Monthly), which had been started by Bernier and Delfeil de Ton in 1969. The monthly Charlie took its name from the lead character of one of the comics it originally published, Peanuts's Charlie Brown. Using that title for the new weekly magazine was also an inside joke about Charles de Gaulle. The first issue did feature a Peanuts strip, as the editors were fans of the series.
In December 1981, publication ceased.
In 1991, Gébé, Cabu and others were reunited to work for La Grosse Bertha (journal) (fr), a new weekly magazine resembling Charlie Hebdo created in reaction to the First Gulf War and edited by singer and comedian Philippe Val. However, the following year, Val clashed with the publisher, who wanted apolitical humour, and was fired. Gébé and Cabu walked out with him and decided to launch their own paper again. The three called upon Cavanna, Delfeil de Ton and Wolinski, requesting their help and input. After much searching for a new name, the obvious idea of resurrecting Charlie Hebdo was agreed on. The new magazine was owned by Val, Gébé, Cabu and singer Renaud. Val was editor, Gébé artistic director.
The publication of the new Charlie Hebdo began in July 1992 amidst much publicity. The first issue under the new publication sold 100,000 copies. Choron, who had fallen out with his former colleagues, tried to restart a weekly Hara-Kiri, but its publication was short-lived. Choron died in January 2005.
On 26 April 1996, François Cavanna, Stéphane "Charb" Charbonnier and Philippe Val filed 173,704 signatures, obtained in 8 months, with the aim of banning the political party Front National, since it would have contravened the articles 1, 2, 4, 6 and 7 of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.
In 2000, journalist Mona Chollet was sacked after she had protested against a Philippe Val article which called Palestinians "non-civilized". In 2004, following the death of Gébé, Val succeeded him as director of the publication, while still holding his position as editor.
In 2008, controversy broke over a column by veteran cartoonist Siné which led to accusations of antisemitism and Siné's sacking by Val. Siné successfully sued the newspaper for unfair dismissal and Charlie Hebdo was ordered to pay him €90,000 in damages. Siné launched a rival paper called Siné Hebdo (fr) which later became Siné Mensuel (fr). Charlie Hebdo launched its Internet site, after years of reluctance from Val. In 2009, Philippe Val resigned after being appointed director of France Inter, a public radio station to which he has contributed since the early 1990s. His functions were split between two cartoonists, Charb and (Laurent "Riss" Sourisseau). Val gave away his shares in 2011. As of March 2011, Charlie Hebdo was owned by Charb (600 shares), Riss (599 shares), finance director Éric Portheault (299 shares), and Cabu and Bernard Maris with one share each.
Mosque of Paris v Val (2007)
In 2007 the Grand Mosque of Paris began criminal proceedings against the chief-editor of Charlie Hebdo, Philipe Val, under France's hate speech laws for publicly abusing a group on the ground of their religion. The lawsuit was limited to three specific cartoons, including one depicting Muhammad carrying a bomb in his turban. In March 2007 le tribunal de Paris acquitted Val, finding that it was fundamentalists, rather than Muslims, who were being ridiculed in the cartoons.
Siné sacking (2008)
On 2 July 2008, a column by the cartoonist Siné (Maurice Sinet) appeared in Charlie Hebdo citing a news item that Jean Sarkozy, son of Nicolas Sarkozy, had announced his intention to convert to Judaism before marrying his fiancée, a Jewish heiress Jessica Sebaoun-Darty. Siné added, "he'll go far, this lad!" After this led to complaints of anti-Semitism, after journalist Claude Askolovitch described them as anti-Semitic. The magazine's editor, Philippe Val, ordered Siné to write a letter of apology or face termination. The cartoonist said he would rather "cut his own balls off," and was promptly fired. Both sides subsequently filed lawsuits, and in December 2010, Siné won a 40,000-euro court judgment against his former publisher for wrongful termination. Siné also reported a death threat posted on a site run by the Jewish Defense League. The text said "20 centimeters of stainless steel in the gut, that should teach the bastard to stop and think."
Muhammad cartoons and aftermath
Controversy arose over the publication's edition of 9 February 2006. Under the title "Mahomet débordé par les intégristes" ("Muhammad overwhelmed by fundamentalists"), the front page showed a cartoon of a weeping Muhammad saying "C'est dur d'être aimé par des cons" ("it's hard being loved by jerks"). The newspaper reprinted the twelve cartoons of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy and added some of their own. Compared to a regular circulation of 100,000 sold copies, this edition enjoyed great commercial success. 160,000 copies were sold and another 150,000 were in print later that day.
In response, French President Jacques Chirac condemned "overt provocations" which could inflame passions. "Anything that can hurt the convictions of someone else, in particular religious convictions, should be avoided", Chirac said. The Grand Mosque of Paris, the Muslim World League and the Union of French Islamic Organisations (UOIF) sued, claiming the cartoon edition included racist cartoons. A later edition contained a statement by a group of twelve writers warning against Islamism.
The suit by the Grand Mosque and the UOIF reached the courts in February 2007. Publisher Philippe Val contended "It is racist to imagine that they can't understand a joke," but Francis Szpiner, the lawyer for the Grand Mosque, explained the suit: "Two of those caricatures make a link between Muslims and Muslim terrorists. That has a name and it's called racism."
Future president Nicolas Sarkozy sent a letter to be read in court expressing his support for the ancient French tradition of satire. François Bayrou and future president François Hollande also expressed their support for freedom of expression. The French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) criticized the expression of these sentiments, claiming that they were politicizing a court case.
On 22 March 2007, executive editor Val was acquitted by the court. The court followed the state attorney's reasoning that two of the three cartoons were not an attack on Islam, but on Muslim terrorists, and that the third cartoon with Muhammad with a bomb in his turban should be seen in the context of the magazine in question, which attacked religious fundamentalism.
In the early hours of 2 November 2011, the newspaper's office in the 20th arrondissement was fire-bombed and its website hacked. The attacks were presumed to be linked to its decision to rename the 3 November 2011 edition "Charia Hebdo", with Muhammad listed as the "editor-in-chief". The cover, featuring a cartoon of Muhammad saying: "100 lashes of the whip if you don't die laughing" by Luz (Rénald Luzier), had circulated on social media for a couple of days.
The "Charia Hebdo" issue had been a response to recent news of the post-election introduction of sharia law in Libya and the victory of the Islamist party in Tunisia. It especially focuses on oppression of women under sharia, taking aim at domestic violence, mandatory veiling, burquas, restrictions on freedom, forced marriage, and stoning of those accused of adultery. It also targeted oppression of gays and dissenters, and practices such as stoning, flogging, hand/foot/tongue amputations, polygamy, forced marriage, and early indoctrination of children. "Guest editor" Muhammad is portrayed as a good-humored voice of reason, decrying the recent elections and calling for a separation between politics and religion, while stating that Islam is compatible with humor. The magazine responded to the bombing by distributing some four times the usual number of copies.
Charb was quoted by AP stating that the attack might have been carried out by "stupid people who don't know what Islam is" and that they are "idiots who betray their own religion". Mohammed Moussaoui, head of the French Council of the Muslim Faith, said his organisation deplores "the very mocking tone of the paper toward Islam and its prophet but reaffirms with force its total opposition to all acts and all forms of violence." François Fillon, the prime minister, and Claude Guéant, the interior minister, voiced support for Charlie Hebdo, as did feminist writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who criticised calls for self-censorship.
In September 2012, the newspaper published a series of satirical cartoons of Muhammad, some of which featured nude caricatures of him. Given that this issue came days after a series of attacks on U.S. embassies in the Middle East, purportedly in response to the anti-Islamic film Innocence of Muslims, the French government decided to increase security at certain French embassies, as well as to close the French embassies, consulates, cultural centres, and international schools in about 20 Muslim countries. In addition, riot police surrounded the offices of the magazine to protect it against possible attacks.
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius criticised the magazine's decision, saying, "In France, there is a principle of freedom of expression, which should not be undermined. In the present context, given this absurd video that has been aired, strong emotions have been awakened in many Muslim countries. Is it really sensible or intelligent to pour oil on the fire?" The U.S. White House stated "a French magazine published cartoons featuring a figure resembling the Prophet Muhammad, and obviously, we have questions about the judgment of publishing something like this." However, the newspaper's editor defended publication of the cartoons, saying, "We do caricatures of everyone, and above all every week, and when we do it with the Prophet, it's called provocation."
On 7 January 2015, two Islamist gunmen forced their way into and opened fire in the Paris headquarters of Charlie Hebdo, killing twelve: staff cartoonists Charb, Cabu, Honoré, Tignous and Wolinski, economist Bernard Maris, editors Elsa Cayat and Mustapha Ourrad, guest Michel Renaud, maintenance worker Frédéric Boisseau and police officers Brinsolaro and Merabet, and wounding eleven, four of them seriously.
During the attack, the gunmen shouted "Allahu akbar" ("God is great" in Arabic) and also "the Prophet is avenged". President François Hollande described it as a "terrorist attack of the most extreme barbarity". The two gunmen were identified as Saïd Kouachi and Chérif Kouachi, French Muslim brothers of Algerian descent.
The "survivors' issue"
The day after the attack, the remaining staff of Charlie Hebdo announced that publication would continue, with the following week's edition of the newspaper to be published according to the usual schedule with a print run of one million copies, up significantly from its usual 60,000. On 13 January 2015 the news came on BBC that the first issue after the massacre will come out in three million copies. On Wednesday itself it was announced that due to a huge demand in France, the print run would be raised from three to five million copies. The newspaper announced the revenue from the issue would go towards the families of the victims.
The French government granted nearly €1 million to support the magazine. The Digital Innovation Press Fund (French: Fonds Google–AIPG pour l’Innovation Numérique de la presse), partially funded by Google, donated €250,000, matching a donation by the French Press and Pluralism Fund. The Guardian Media Group pledged a donation of £100,000.
Je suis Charlie
After the attacks, the phrase Je suis Charlie, French for "I am Charlie", was adopted by supporters of free speech and freedom of expression who were reacting to the shootings. The phrase identifies a speaker or supporter of those who were killed at the Charlie Hebdo shooting, and by extension, a supporter of freedom of speech and resistance to armed threats. Some journalists embraced the expression as a rallying cry for the freedom of self-expression.
The slogan was first used on Twitter and spread to the Internet at large. The Twitter account and the original "Je suis Charlie" picture bearing the phrase in white Charlie Hebdo style font on black background were created by French journalist and artist Joachim Roncin just after the massacre.
The website of Charlie Hebdo went offline shortly after the shooting, and when it returned it bore the legend Je Suis Charlie on a black background. The statement was used as the hashtag #jesuischarlie on Twitter, as computer-printed or hand-made placards and stickers, and displayed on mobile phones at vigils, and on many websites, particularly media sites. While other symbols were used, notably holding pens in the air, the phrase "Not Afraid", and tweeting certain images, "Je Suis Charlie" became more widespread. 
Luz, one of the survivors of the attack, stated: "People sang La Marseillaise. We're speaking about the memory of Charb, Tignous, Cabu, Honoré, Wolinski: they would all have abhorred that kind of attitude." Willem, another surviving cartoonist, declared that "We vomit on those who suddenly declared that they were our friends".
Reactions to cartoon
Pope Francis said that insulting religions was provocative and that one could expect a reaction to such abuse. Muslim communities in France and other countries also called for criminalizing insulting religions amid increasing anger around the Muslim world over Charlie Hebdo’s decision to publish new cartoons of Muhammad. Graphic artist Joe Sacco offered a graphic comment and pause to rethink the limits of free speech: "when we draw a line we are often crossing one too.". Expanding on her recently published book, "Caricaturing culture in India: Cartoons and history in the modern world," anthropologist Ritu Gairola Khanduri queried the politics of images, the paradox of liberalism and discussed the "refusal to laugh." In a follow up blog post Khanduri explained the Charlie Hebdo shooting as a ritual sacrifice but one in which the violence displaced on to the cartoons was restored to the body. She proposed "a history of times we did not laugh" for "drawing lines of empathy" and even acknowledging the "inability to transcend and to empathize." 
- Gérard Biard (fr), editor
- Sylvie Coma, editor
- Luz, cartoonist
- Riss, cartoonist, managing editor, director of publication
- Catherine Meurisse (fr), cartoonist
- Coco, cartoonist
- Willem, cartoonist
- Walter Foolz, cartoonist
- Babouse, cartoonist
- Patrick Pelloux, journalist
- Antonio Fischetti (fr), journalist
- Zineb El Rhazoui (fr), journalist
- Philippe Lançon, critic
- Fabrice Nicolino, journalist
- Sigolène Vinson (fr), journalist
- Laurent Léger (fr), journalist
- Jean-Baptiste Thoret (fr), critic
- Mathieu Madénian, columnist
- Simon Fieschi, webmaster
- Richard Malka, lawyer
- Eric Portheault, finance manager
- Le Canard enchaîné, a satirical weekly French newspaper
- Republican marches (January 2015)
- Operation Gladio
- Strategy of tension
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Witnesses said that the gunmen had called out the names of individual from the magazine. French media report that Charb, the Charlie Hebdo cartoonist who was on al-Qaeda's most wanted list in 2013, was seriously injured.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Charlie Hebdo.|
- Official website (French)
- "Un historique d'Hara-Kiri/Charlie Hebdo" (in French). Archived from the original on 24 March 2007.