Next Charlie Hebdo Cover Has Muhammad Saying ‘Je suis Charlie’

Their editor and nine colleagues dead, their offices destroyed, the newspaper is not missing a beat.

Their editor and nine colleagues dead, their offices destroyed, the newspaper is not missing a beat.


NYT (“Muhammad on the Cover of Charlie Hebdo’s New Issue“):

Around 9:10 on Monday evening, laughter and a round of applause broke out among the surviving staff members of Charlie Hebdo, followed shortly by cries — joyous if ironic — of “Allahu akbar!”

The group was cheering Rénald Luzier, a cartoonist known as Luz, who on the umpteenth try had produced what the editors thought was the perfect cover image for the most anticipated issue ever of this scrappy, iconoclastic weekly, which will appear on Wednesday. It showed the Prophet Muhammad holding a sign saying, “Je suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie”), with the words “All is forgiven” in French above it on a green background.

“Habemus a front page,” Gérard Biard, one of the paper’s top editors, said with a smile, emerging from the staff’s makeshift newsroom and deploying the phrase used to announce a new pope. To find the right image, he said: “We asked ourselves: ‘What do we want to say? What should we say? And in what way?’ About the subject, unfortunately, we had no doubt.”

Since Friday, just two days after gunmen had slaughtered 12 people at the paper, about 25 members of the staff had been huddled in the offices of the leftist daily Libération, under heavy police protection, to work on the next issue. They were still in shock, and confounded to have suddenly become heroes of free speech to the same political and religious establishments they had long mocked.


“We decided that we would do a normal edition, not a memorial issue,” Mr. Biard said on Friday, where an emotional three-hour staff meeting had just ended. Caterers brought in trays of smoked salmon, sandwiches and cream-filled desserts. A row of plainclothes police officers stood watch outside. Journalists hovered. Five desktop computers from Le Monde were set up on a round glass table. Since the attacks, donations have been pouring in, and a fund has been set up, (“I help Charlie”).

As the newsroom sprang to life on Friday afternoon, Mr. Biard reflected. “They killed people who drew cartoon characters. That’s it. That’s all these guys do. If they’re afraid of that,” what’s their god?, he asked, inserting an expletive for emphasis.

A remarkable story of resilience and stubbornness. The cover is, in retrospect, obvious but still brilliant. And, frankly, much a classier way to make their point than has been the paper’s norm.

FILED UNDER: Media, Religion, Terrorism, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    It’s also worth noting that on the cover, Mohammed is weeping.

  2. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Actually, over at Ace of Spades, they found a rather remarkable similarity between the cover and another rather popular image… and it’s just spiteful enough that I think it might not be a coincidence.

  3. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: It might surprise the people at Ace of Spades but most Europeans do not really care about little US private spats.

    And whatever Michelle Obama does in her spare time is practically unknown, so I seriously doubt that this is in any way related. The people at CH have completely different targets for their humour. They wouldn’t even spend five minutes thinking about a picture like this. That’s a completely insular obsession.

  4. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Ebenezer_Arvigenius: You’re probably right in that it’s not a deliberate homage… but there’s a part of me that’s tickled by the thought. I think the sentiment is accurate for Charlie, but you might be right that they wouldn’t have deliberately chosen to echo the Sad Michelle picture.

    I’m still going to enjoy the possibility, though.

  5. Just 'nutha says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: In Korea and Japan, that symbol is not for crying,n it signals embarrassment, which may explain why some of the radical Islamic element is already angry again (if the same is true elsewhere).

  6. Franklin says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: While I disagree that the images are related, I do agree that it doesn’t do much for me to look at images or videos of people being sad. The new NFL commercials come to mind, where current and former players are having a hard time talking about domestic violence. I guess I’d prefer a video of them beating up Ray Rice or something.

  7. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Just ‘nutha: In Korea and Japan, that symbol is not for crying,n it signals embarrassment, which may explain why some of the radical Islamic element is already angry again (if the same is true elsewhere).

    What might be vaguely relevant is what it usually means in France…

  8. Pinky says:

    I assume that the image is mocking the holding-up-a-sign level of political involvement.

  9. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    I am guessing you don’t realize that CH was relentlessly left wing, atheist, and pro immigrant rights in both their satire and their commentary. They would agree with almost nothing you ever write and would in fact diametrically oppose virtually all of what I have seen you write on this site. One of the editors spoke out about all of their foul weather friends in the right wing the other day. He said, “I vomit on them.” You may think tu es Charlie, but they certainly don’t identify with you or your politics.

  10. Grewgills says:

    Yes, that is certainly part of it.

  11. Tony W says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: For Christ’s sake, is there nothing you can’t use to bring up your obsession with Obama?

  12. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Grewgills: I’m fully aware of Charlie Hebdo’s past beliefs and positions and stances, and agree that I reject pretty much their entire ideological agenda.

    But to quote another Frenchman, “I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend to the death your right to say it.”

    I don’t believe that free speech is only for those who agree with me. Why would you assume I believe so? Is it because so many on your side do, that you can’t imagine that others do as well?

  13. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    It’s more that I think your reflexive anti-muslim stance trumped your I don’t like their views stance. Free speech was more of a side issue to justify the anti-muslim stance.