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'Reborn' Charlie Hebdo buries its dead

Thursday, January 15, 2015 - 16:59
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Two of Charlie Hebdo's best-known cartoonists were to be buried on Thursday, as the "reborn" satirical magazine flew off the shelves but sparked fury in some parts of the Muslim world for depicting the prophet Mohammed.

[PARIS] Two of Charlie Hebdo's best-known cartoonists were to be buried on Thursday, as the "reborn" satirical magazine flew off the shelves but sparked fury in some parts of the Muslim world for depicting the prophet Mohammed.

Georges Wolinski, 80, and Bernard "Tignous" Verlhac, 57, were to be laid to rest in private family funerals after they were gunned down by two Islamist brothers in last week's attack claimed by Al-Qaeda.

After the shooting at the magazine, which killed 12 people, the French battled to get their hands on the "survivors' issue" which sold out Wednesday before more copies of an eventual print run of five million hit newsstands.

"Charlie Hebdo is alive and will live on," Mr Hollande said on Wednesday. "You can murder men and women, but you can never kill their ideas," he said, declaring the previously struggling weekly "reborn."

The Charlie Hebdo assault was followed by an attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris by a gunman claiming to have coordinated his actions with the Islamist brothers, Said and Cherif Kouachi.

In all, 17 people died over three days in the bloodiest attacks in France in half a century, which ended when commando units stormed twin hostage sieges and killed all three gunmen.

In Wednesday's new edition of Charlie Hebdo, the prophet is depicted with a tear in his eye, under the headline "All is forgiven". He holds a sign reading "Je suis Charlie" (I am Charlie), the slogan that has become a global rallying cry for those expressing sympathy for the victims and support for freedom of speech.

Meanwhile debate was mounting in France over where freedom of expression begins and ends.

Millions rallied in support of free speech after the assault, while French prosecutors, under government orders to crack down on hate crimes, have opened more than 50 cases for condoning terrorism or making threats to carry out terrorist acts since the attack.

They include one against controversial comedian Dieudonne, who was arrested Wednesday over a remark suggesting he sympathised with one of the Paris attackers.

A 21-year-old in Toulouse was also sent to prison for 10 months on Monday under France's ultra-fast-track court system, for expressing support for the jihadists.

True to form, the cover of Charlie Hebdo has sparked controversy and protests in some parts of the Muslim world, where many find the depiction of the prophet highly offensive.

Al-Qaeda's branch in Yemen, where the Kouachi brothers are known to have trained, released a video Wednesday claiming responsibility for the attack, saying it was "vengeance" for the magazine's cartoons of the prophet.

Amedy Coulibaly, who shot dead four Jews at a kosher supermarket in Paris and a policewoman the day before in attacks he said were coordinated with the Kouachi brothers, has claimed links to the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.

The Afghan Taliban on Thursday condemned Charlie Hebdo's publication of further Mohammed cartoons and praised the gunmen, saying they were "bringing the perpetrators of the obscene act to justice".

Angry opponents in countries from Pakistan and Turkey, the Philippines and Mauritania have staged protests over the new cartoons.

A Turkish court ordered a block on websites featuring images of the cover, while Senegal said it was banning the dissemination of Wednesday's editions of Charlie Hebdo and the French daily Liberation, which also put a cartoon of the Mohammed on the front page.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Thursday described the cover as a "grave provocation."

"Freedom of the press does not mean freedom to insult," Mr Davutoglu told reporters in Ankara But many have taken a nuanced stance and tried to calm tensions, with French Muslim leaders urging their communities - which have been targeted with attacks on mosques in the wake of the shootings - to "stay calm and avoid emotive reactions".

Mr Hollande was due Thursday to address the Arab World Institute in Paris, a cultural institute that promotes closer ties between France and the Arab world.

A shell-shocked France has deployed armed police to protect synagogues and Jewish schools and called up 10,000 troops to guard against other attacks.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls has admitted France's intelligence capabilities and anti-terrorism laws needed to be strengthened and "clear failings" addressed.

The three gunmen were known to French intelligence and on a US terror watch list "for years".

Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws reported that Coulibaly bought all their weapons - including assault rifles and a rocket launcher - near the Gare du Midi station in Brussels for less than 5,000 euros (US$7,000).

British Prime Minister David Cameron and US President Barack Obama meanwhile vowed a united front against Islamic extremists in a joint editorial in The Times newspaper, published on the eve of a visit by Cameron to Washington.

"We will continue to stand together against those who threaten our values and our way of life," the two leaders wrote.

"When the freedoms that we treasure came under a brutal attack in Paris, the world responded with one voice."

AFP

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