If the name of a French satirical magazine was for the most part unknown to Western culture before this year, then Charlie Hebdo (the moniker itself a pun in French) will forever be associated with the violent and fatal shooting in the minds of those who turned to their TVs, radios, and live feeds on the morning of January 7th. Leaving 12 dead, including staff members, a maintenance officer, and a policeman, the attack sparked huge demonstrations across Paris and within France, as well as around the world. “Je Suis Charlie” was on the lips of all who marched in support of “La Liberté d’Expression.” Freedom of speech.
Frequent readers will understand that the political cartoon that incited the attacks was not Charlie Hebdo’s first provocative satirical work. In fact, the magazine is infamous for its similarly sensitive cartoons, editorials, and slogans and has faced numerous threats in the past.
Though staff are obviously shaken and now treading carefully, new Charlie Hebdo editor Gerard Briard promises a strong future for the magazine. “Hebdo” being an abbreviation of “hebdomadaire” (weekly), the magazine resolved to stick to its word and published the first issue following the attacks exactly one week afterwards. On the cover was written, “All is forgiven.” Within the issue can be found material not unlike that of former issues, containing a number of comic strips and sarcastic articles, though also a heartfelt tribute and nod to the events of the previous week.
While the editor is confident that Charlie Hebdo will continue circulating, he did point to the sort of “What Now?” feeling he and other staff members felt during a press release on the Tuesday following the attacks. It is possible the magazine will experience changes as contributors adapt to the reality of the consequences, whether this means the level of satire and other incendiary work will be heightened or regulated. “There is a future,” Briard assured reporters, but “For the time being we can’t tell you anymore because we don’t know ourselves.”