One week after the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo’s offices in Paris that killed 12 people, the weekly satirical magazine, which has taken refuge in the headquarters of the daily Libération, will publish a defiant new issue Wednesday. The day before its publication, several pieces of information filtered about what has been labeled the “survivors’ issue.”
1. THE PROPHET WILL APPEAR ON THE FRONT PAGE The French daily Libération revealed the front page of tomorrow’s issue of Charlie Hebdo Monday evening. As seen above, it shows the Prophet Muhammad in tears holding a sign that reads “Je suis Charlie.” Above the picture, the title: “All is forgiven.”
In an interview with the radio station France Info, Charlie Hebdo’s lawyer, Richard Malka, said Wednesday’s issue of the magazine would “of course” include pictures of the Prophet Muhammad. “We will not concede anything, otherwise all of this would make no sense,” he said, adding that the “Je suis Charlie” slogan meant, above all, the right to blasphemy. “It means you can criticize my religion, because it’s okay. You can’t criticize a Jew because he’s Jewish, a Muslim because he’s Muslim, a Christian because he’s Christian. But you can say what you want, and the worst things, and we say them, about Christianity, Judaism and Islam, because above unity and pretty slogans, that’s the reality of Charlie Hebdo.” Several newspapers across the world already published last week the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad that first appeared in the weekly magazine in 2006. In a sign that Charlie Hebdo’s satire lives on, the cartoonist Luz, who survived the attack, told the radio station France Inter the staff would “use this freedom, because not many people will dare to sue us.”
2. THE COVER WAS DRAWN BY SURVIVING CARTOONIST LUZ “In every Charlie Hebdo issue for the past 22 years, there is not one that hasn’t shown cartoons of the Pope, Jesus, priests, rabbis, imams and Muhammad,” Richard Malka pointed out Monday, adding it would be surprising if this new issue did not show the Prophet. The cover, and several other cartoons, for the new issue are signed by Luz, who has been part of the magazine staff for 20 years. Luz, whose real name is Renaud Luzier, survived because he was late to arrive at the editorial meeting last Wednesday because it was his 43rd birthday, and he'd slept in and stopped to buy a galette des rois cake on his way to work. “When I started drawing, I always considered that we were protected by the fact we drew little Mickey Mouses. With the deaths, the shooting, the violence, everything has changed,” the cartoonist explains in an interview with the French magazine Les Inrocks.
3. ONLY CHARLIE HEBDO STAFF WORKED ON IT The new managing director of Charlie Hebdo, Eric Portheault, refuted rumors that external cartoonists such as Plantu (Le Monde) or Siné (Siné Mensuel) worked on the new and much awaited issue. It was done “only with Charlie Hebdo staff,” he told the AFP. Finalized Monday evening, the issue was not going to be an obituary, the editor of the magazine Gérard Biard promised. “We didn’t want to be whiny. It will not be a tribute issue. If we want to be faithful towards those who have gone, we have to follow the spirit of the newspaper, we have to make people laugh,” Richard Malka said. On the television channel Canal +, Eric Portheault also added the cartoonist Riss, whose right arm — the one he draws with — was wounded during the attack, managed to produce two pictures with his left hand on his hospital bed. In Libération, Gérard Biard also said there will be republished cartoons by cartoonists Cabu, Charb, Honoré, Tignous and Wolinski, as well an article signed by the economist Bernard Maris, all killed in the attack. Luz explained the staff wanted new readers to follow them for the right reasons: “We will explain to them why they can buy Charlie and why others will never buy it.”
4. IT WILL BE TRANSLATED INTO 5 LANGUAGES At least 3 million copies of Wednesday’s Charlie Hebdo, six times its usual run, translated into 5 different languages, are set to be distributed in 25 countries, Patrick Pelloux confirmed. Sales of the magazine, which will count 16 pages, are expected to rapidly run out of stock and a limited number of people will be able to obtain a physical copy. In honor of their fallen colleagues, the remaining magazine staff returned to work as soon as Friday, two days after the tragedy, in a Libération office. According to the daily, the editorial meeting soon turned into the regular hubbub amid a heavy atmosphere, interrupted only by news of the survivors and the funeral preparations of those killed. Charlie Hebdo has an international distribution setup in countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada or Australia, according to a Reddit thread. But the expected popularity of the next issue led to a surge in subscriptions to the weekly on Amazon, with prices going up to $186.25 a year.
5. MILLIONS IN FINANCIAL HELP The satirical magazine has received millions of euros in financial support for the publication of its future issues. The French Minister of Culture and Communication, Fleur Pellerin, announced the state would grant 1 million euros for its survival. Google also announced it would donate 250,000 euros via its Digital Innovation Press Fund, while The Guardian said it would provide the magazine with 128,000 euros. In France, other organizations such as the Presse et Pluralisme fund of the National Daily Press Union will also make donations, along with several collections from crowdfunding websites. Charlie Hebdo has faced great financial difficulty in recent years, with 50,000 euros in losses in 2013, and an estimated 100,000 euros in 2014.
6. DUTCH CHARLIE HEBDO CARTOONIST EXPRESSES HIS RAGE The Dutch cartoonist Willem, who works for Charlie Hebdo and was not in the office during last week’s attack, said in the Dutch daily Volkskrant he “vomits on all these people who suddenly say they are our friends,” adding they never read Charlie Hebdo. “We have lots of new friends, like the Pope, Queen Elizabeth or Putin: it really makes me laugh,” he said. He also explained he never goes to editorial meetings because he doesn’t “like them, I guess that saved my life.”
7. A FAKE FRONT PAGE WAS ALREADY CIRCULATING
— Les Guignols (@LesGuignols) January 8, 2015
The popular French satirical television show Les Guignols created a fake Charlie Hebdo cover in tribute to the magazine and its staff. Appearing as a job advertisement, it reads “Urgently looking for six cartoonists”, along with the tweet: “Good news, Charlie Hebdo will be published next week, here is the cover.”
*Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the number of languages the magazine would appear in, and the number of pages of the new issue. Sorry about that.
Once meant to protect the royal family, the century-old law has become a tool for the military-led government in Bangkok to stamp out all dissent. A new report outlines the abuses.
"We need to reform the institution of the monarchy in Thailand. It is the root of the problem." Those words, from Thai student activist Juthatip Sirikan, are a clear expression of the growing youth-led movement that is challenging the legitimacy of the government and demanding deep political changes in the Southeast Asian nation. Yet those very same words could also send Sirikan to jail.
Thailand's Criminal Code 'Lèse-Majesté' Article 112 imposes jail terms for defaming, insulting, or threatening the monarchy, with sentences of three to 15 years. This law has been present in Thai politics since 1908, though applied sparingly, only when direct verbal or written attacks against members of the royal family.
But after the May 2014 military coup d'état, Thailand experienced the first wave of lèse-majesté arrests, prosecutions, and detentions of at least 127 individuals arrested in a much wider interpretation of the law.
The recent report 'Second Wave: The Return of Lèse-Majesté in Thailand', documents how the Thai government has "used and abused Article 112 of the Criminal Code to target pro-democracy activists and protesters in relation to their online political expression and participation in peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations."
Criticism of any 'royal project'
The investigation shows 124 individuals, including at least eight minors, have been charged with lèse-majesté between November 2020 and August 2021. Nineteen of them served jail time. The new wave of charges is cited as a response to the rising pro-democracy protests across Thailand over the past year.
Juthatip Sirikan explains that the law is now being applied in such a broad way that people are not allowed to question government budgets and expenditure if they have any relationship with the royal family, which stifles criticism of the most basic government decision-making since there are an estimated 5,000 ongoing "royal" projects. "Article 112 of lèse-majesté could be the key (factor) in Thailand's political problems" the young activist argues.
In 2020 the Move Forward opposition party questioned royal spending paid by government departments, including nearly 3 billion baht (89,874,174 USD) from the Defense Ministry and Thai police for royal security, and 7 billion baht budgeted for royal development projects, as well as 38 planes and helicopters for the monarchy. Previously, on June 16, 2018, it was revealed that Thailand's Crown Property Bureau transferred its entire portfolio to the new King Maha Vajiralongkorn.
Protestors In Bangkok Call For Political Prisoner Release
Freedom of speech at stake
"Article 112 shuts down all freedom of speech in this country", says Sirikan. "Even the political parties fear to touch the subject, so it blocks most things. This country cannot move anywhere if we still have this law."
The student activist herself was charged with lèse-majesté in September 2020, after simply citing a list of public documents that refer to royal family expenditure. Sirikan comes from a family that has faced the consequences of decades of political repression. Her grandfather, Tiang Sirikhan was a journalist and politician who openly protested against Thailand's involvement in World War II. He was accused of being a Communist and abducted in 1952. According to Sirikhan's family, he was killed by the state.
The new report was conducted by The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Thai Lawyer for Human Rights (TLHR), and Internet Law Reform Dialogue (iLaw). It accuses Thai authorities of an increasingly broad interpretation of Article 112, to the point of "absurdity," including charges against people for criticizing the government's COVID-19 vaccine management, wearing crop tops, insulting the previous monarch, or quoting a United Nations statement about Article 112.
Juthatip Sirikan speaks in front of democracy monument.
Shift to social media
While in the past the Article was only used against people who spoke about the royals, it's now being used as an alibi for more general political repression — which has also spurred more open campaigning to abolish it. Sirikan recounts recent cases of police charging people for spreading paint near the picture of the king during a protest, or even just for having a picture of the king as phone wallpaper.
The more than a century-old law is now largely playing out online, where much of today's protest takes place in Thailand. Sirikan says people are willing to go further on social media to expose information such as how the king intervenes in politics and the monarchy's accumulation of wealth, information the mainstream media rarely reports on them.
Not surprisingly, however, social media is heavily monitored and the military is involved in Intelligence operations and cyber attacks against human rights defenders and critics of any kind. In October 2020, Twitter took down 926 accounts, linked to the army and the government, which promoted themselves and attacked political opposition, and this June, Google removed two Maps with pictures, names, and addresses, of more than 400 people who were accused of insulting the Thai monarchy. "They are trying to control the internet as well," Sirikan says. "They are trying to censor every content that they find a threat".
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