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Charlie Hebdo to publish Mohammad cartoon on front page

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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 Islamist gunmen attacked the satirical newspaper.

[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 Islamist gunmen 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 that large numbers of customers around the country were placing orders.

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.

The paper said the front page of its Jan. 14 edition would display a tearful Mohammad with a sign saying "Je suis Charlie" (I am Charlie) below the headline: "Tout est pardonné" (All is forgiven).

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."

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

There was no official reaction from the government on the weekly's decision.

President Francois Hollande led a Paris ceremony to pay last respects to the three police officers, including one Muslim, who were killed in last week's violence. A separate funeral was held in Jerusalem for four Jewish victims of a hostage-taking in a kosher deli in Paris.

Mr Hollande said the police officer posted in Hebdo's offices died defending a freedom of expression based on "an insolence, an impertinence which expresses an independence".

On Sunday, at least 3.7 million people throughout France took part in marches of support for Charlie Hebdo and freedom of expression. World leaders linked arms to lead more than a million people through Paris in an unprecedented homage to the victims.

Three days of violence ended on Friday with a siege at a Jewish deli in Paris where four hostages and a gunman were killed. Shortly before, police killed the Hebdo attackers in a gun battle at a print works northwest of the city.

In the wake of the violence, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said 10,000 troops were being deployed at sensitive sites including synagogues, mosques and airports.

Mr Hollande's government has avoided referring to the Maghreb and African roots of the three killers. It has also sought to discredit their claim to be acting in the name of Islam, calling them "fanatics".

However, France's Islamic council called on the government to step up protection of mosques, saying that at least 50 anti-Islamic acts had been reported since the attack.

Abdallah Zekri, head of the National Observatory against Islamophobia, said Muslim sites such as Paris's main mosque were not getting the same level of security as Jewish synagogues and schools.

"There are websites out there calling for the murder of Muslim leaders and the torching of Muslim religious sites," he told France Info. "Let's stop the double standards."

European leaders are worried that the events in France will add to rising anti-immigrant sentiment in Europe.

On Monday, a record 25,000 anti-Islamist protesters marched through the German city of Dresden, many holding banners with anti-immigrant slogans.

In light of the threat, Le Drian said the government would need to review some of its military capabilities, including the role of the army reserves.

He also raised the prospect of reconsidering the severely strained military budget when its long-term spending plan comes up for review later this year in parliament.

The French government was due to seek parliament's approval for France's participation in air raids against Islamic State in Iraq. One of last week's killers cited France's military strikes against Muslims as a motivation for his acts.

"The response is inside and outside France. Islamic State is a terrorist army with fighters from everywhere ... it is an international army that has to be wiped out and that is why we are part of the coalition," Le Drian told Europe 1 radio.

Under French law, the president can launch foreign military action, but must seek parliament's approval four months into an operation if it is to continue.

REUTERS