Latest Charlie Hebdo takes dig at far-right party's makeover

2nd March 2015, Comments 0 comments

The latest issue of Charlie Hebdo -- the satirical weekly which has become the top-selling newspaper in France since its offices were attacked by Islamist gunmen in January -- takes a dig at the country's far-right National Front.

The cover of the weekly, seen by AFP before it goes on sale on Wednesday, shows two thuggish skinhead party members sporting angel wings and one of them, with a harp, declaring: "Utterly un-demonised."

The message mocks efforts by the National Front, under leader Marine Le Pen, to lose its previous image as a fringe, semi-fascist outfit and broaden its public appeal to be seen as an acceptable alternative to the country's mainstream Socialist and conservative parties.

While still typically controversial, the cover veers away from Charlie Hebdo's past references to the Prophet Mohammed or jihadists.

It also notably adorns what has easily become France's number one news publication since the January 7 massacre at its offices in which 12 people were killed by a pair of Islamist brothers claiming allegiance to the militant group Al-Qaeda in Yemen.

The latest issue -- the third since the shootings -- will have a print run of 1.56 million copies, according to one of Charlie Hebdo's managers, Eric Portheault. Last week's saw 2.5 million copies printed, with 1.5 million sold so far.

Those numbers are huge for France, where more traditional daily titles such as Le Monde and Le Figaro have circulations of around 300,000 each.

Charlie Hebdo hit an all-time record with its "survivors' issue" a week after the massacre, when eight million copies were sold.

Before the tragic notoriety brought by the January attack, the newspaper was struggling and in the red, selling only around half of the 60,000 copies it was printing each week.

Despite the deaths of several of its star cartoonists, Charlie Hebdo has sworn to maintain its irreverent tone and keep ridiculing politicians, religions and celebrities in the name of freedom of expression.

The cover of its "survivors' issue" famously -- and controversially -- depicted a crying Prophet Mohammed holding a sign saying "Je suis Charlie" (I am Charlie). That caricature drew criticism from Muslims in several countries.

Last week's follow-up issue featured a cartoon depicting the pope, a jihadist and Le Pen as a pack of enraged animals.

© 2015 AFP

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