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3 million copies of 'Charlie Hebdo' to hit news stands

Digital versions will be posted in English, Spanish and Arabic, with print editions in Italian and Turkish.

FILE: Thousands of people gather in Paris, France in support of the 12 people killed in the Charlie Hebdo shooting. Picture: Constance Decorde/EWN

PARIS - Charlie Hebdo will publish a front page showing a caricature of the Prophet Mohammad holding a sign saying "Je suis Charlie" in its first edition since terrorists attacked the satirical newspaper.

With demand surging for the edition due on Wednesday, the weekly planned to print up to 3 million copies, dwarfing its usual run of 60,000, after newsagents reported a rush of orders.

Digital versions will be posted in English, Spanish and Arabic, while print editions in Italian and Turkish will also appear.

France has drafted in thousands of extra police and soldiers to provide security after 17 people were killed in three days of violence that began when two Islamist gunmen burst into Charlie Hebdo's offices, opening fire in revenge for the paper's publication of satirical images of Mohammad in the past.

In a parliamentary session honouring the victims, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said France was "at war against terrorism, jihadism and radical Islamism" but not the Muslim faith, the country's second-largest, which "has its place in France".

After his speech, lawmakers broke into a spontaneous rendition of La Marseillaise, a first in parliament's history.

The front page of Charlie Hebdo's 14 January edition shows a tearful Mohammad with a sign "Je suis Charlie" (I am Charlie) below the headline: "Tout est pardonné" (All is forgiven).

"I wrote 'all is forgiven' and I cried," Renald Luzier, who drew the image, told journalists at the weekly's temporary office at the headquarters of the left-wing daily Liberation.

"This is our front page ... it's not the one the terrorists wanted us to draw," he said. "I'm not worried at all... I trust people's intelligence, the intelligence of humour."

RIGHT TO BLASPHEME

The new edition of Charlie Hebdo, known for its satirical attacks on Islam and other religions, will include other cartoons featuring the Prophet Mohammad and also making fun of politicians and other religions, its lawyer said.

"We will not back down, otherwise none of this has any meaning," Richard Malka told French radio. "If you hold the banner 'I am Charlie', that means you have the right to blaspheme, you have the right to criticise my religion."

There was no official reaction from the French government on the new edition.

At a regular news briefing, US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said: "We absolutely support the right of Charlie Hebdo to publish things like this. Again, that's what happens in a democracy. Period."

Egypt's Grand Mufti warned Charlie Hebdo against publishing a new Mohammad caricature, saying it was a racist act that would incite hatred and upset Muslims around the world.

One Paris newspaper vendor said he had received 200 advance orders for Charlie Hebdo and was stopping there as he could no longer cope.

French Muslim leaders urged their community to keep calm and respect the right to freedom of expression.

"What is uncomfortable for us is the representation of the Prophet," Abdelbaki Attaf told Reuters at the funeral in the northern Paris suburb of Bobigny of Ahmed Merabet, the Muslim policeman shot trying to defend the Hebdo cartoonists.

"Any responsible Muslim will find it hard to accept that. But we shouldn't ban it," said Attaf, an administrator at the mosque in nearby Gennevilliers occasionally visited by Cherif Kouachi, one of the Hebdo killers.

A separate funeral was held in Jerusalem for four Jewish victims of a hostage-taking in a kosher grocery shop in Paris.

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