Extremist arsonists 0 – Satirical weekly 1
After waking up this morning to the news that satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo had been fire-bombed overnight, French web-users appeared to go through the five stages of mourning. Bouts of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally, acceptance, ensued. But after a few hours of Twitter-powered emotional rollercoastering, they were faced with a new problem – this week’s edition of the magazine had sold out.
“URGENT!” read one heavily re-tweeted appeal. “Charlie Hebdo is selling like hotcakes! If you know of any kiosk in central Paris still selling it, please please tweet the address, asap.”
Alas, nobody came forward.
So what comes as more of a surprise – that Charlie Hebdo didn’t think to protect their offices after such an outrageous provocation, or that its attackers didn’t envisage their actions as a munificent gift to the very magazine they were trying to denounce?
A history of trouble-making
Since it was launched in 1970 as a rival to the country’s long-established satirical Canard Enchainé (which continues to boast larger sales), Charlie Hebdo has never strayed far from the crude or offensive, and has no qualms in taking on politicians, celebrities, religious and business leaders… especially those who veer towards the right-wing.
Its decision to “invite” the Prophet Mohammed to guest edit its a special edition on the Arab Spring was far from exceptional. When Michael Jackson died in 2009, the paper splashed with “Michael Jackson Finally White”, alongside a skeletal depiction of the doomed singer (top right).
In envisaging former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn winning the French presidential election, the shamed socialist was sketched strewn with condoms instead of confetti (right).
And when Nicolas Sarkozy’s wife and first lady, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, gave birth to their baby last week, the president was drawn pushing a pram loaned by French investment giant, Bolloré, with the comic-style title “Stingy!” splashed across it (right).
With this out-to-incite attitude it’s no surprise that Charlie Hebdo has racked up a string of lawsuits and condemnations over the years – clearly serving as a crude form of publicity for the magazine. But getting fire-bombed has to be its most impressive feat yet.