On 'Charlie Hebdo' Anniversary, Here are 8 Iconic Cartoon Covers and Why They're Important
On Wednesday, the weekly French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo released over 1 million special edition issues for the one year anniversary of the premeditated attacks on its office last year, which left 12 dead, the Guardian reported. On the cover is God wearing an AK-47 rifle, with the only color being red drops of what looks like blood on his clothes. "One year on: the assassin is still out there," it reads in French.
The cover aligns with Charlie Hebdo's cartoon depictions, which can be considered controversial for their association with religion, not limited to but including Islam and Christianity, NPR reported. Perhaps most controversial have been the illustrations of the Prophet Muhammed, which were the impetus for the January 2015 attack, the BBC reported.
However, the newspaper's mission is to defend secularism by highlighting what they see as the pitfalls of religion and war, according to its website. "Charlie fights religions which inspire swarms of fools, Rednecks who can't see further than the tip of their nose, the dotcom billionaires googlelising the world, bankers who gamble away our money, manufacturers who would make us live with a gas mask, footballers with more ego than talent, hunters who shoot us while mushroom picking and dictators who force us to agree with Bernard-Henri Levy," a description on the website reads.
On Jan. 7, 2015, brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi opened gunfire on the offices while dressed in masks, according to the BBC. They specifically asked for editor Stephane Charbonnier and four other cartoonists. "We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad" and "God is Great" were heard to be shouted by the two in Arabic. Of the 12 killed by the Kouachis in the attack, eight were journalists, two were police officers, one was a caretaker and one was a visitor.
From that incident birthed the slogan "Je suis Charlie," or "I am Charlie," in solidarity for the newspaper. The slogan was shared via social media over six million times within a week of the incident, BBC reported.
While the attack shocked Paris and the world, it wasn't the newspaper's first run-in with threats or even violence. In 2011, firebombs destroyed the offices after a Muhammad cartoon was printed.
Despite all of this, Charlie Hebdo has continued printing new issues and exercising its freedom of speech. Below is a collection of some of the newspaper's most memorable covers from recent years: