France’s president in moving tribute to murdered police

FRENCH satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo is preparing its biggest ever print run in the wake of the massacre at its Paris offices, as French president Francois Hollande paid tribute to three police officers killed in last week’s deadly attacks.

French President Francois Hollande during a ceremony to pay tribute to the three police officers killed in the attacks, in Paris

Seventeen people were killed in a two-day spree launched by fundamentalist brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi and their friend, Amedy Coulibaly.

The attacks began on Wednesday when hooded gunmen stormed Charlie Hebdo during the magazine’s mid-morning editorial conference, killing 12 people, including a policeman who rushed to help.

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The other dead included four hostages killed later in a kosher supermarket, who have been remembered this morning at funerals in Israel.

French President Francois Hollande during a ceremony to pay tribute to the three police officers killed in the attacks, in Paris

In a solemn ceremony in Paris this morning, Mr Hollande saluted the “courage, the bravery, the dignity” of Franck Brinsolaro, Ahmed Merabet and Clarissa Jean-Philippe, the three police officers slain on the 7th and 8th of January.

“They died so that we can live free,” he told the gathered mourners.

He also thanked the world leaders and French people who marched in their millions following the killings: “Last Friday, France showed its strength in the face of fanatics; it demonstrated its unity in the face of those who would divide it; and its solidarity towards the victims.”

His comments came as Bulgarian authorities said they had arrested a French citizen believed to have links to one of the Kouachi brothers.

French President Francois Hollande during a ceremony to pay tribute to the three police officers killed in the attacks, in Paris

Fritz-Joly Joachin, 29, was arrested under two European arrest warrants, one citing his alleged links to a terrorist organization, and a second for allegedly kidnapping his three-year-old son and smuggling him out of the country, said Darina Slavova, regional prosecutor of the southern province of Haskovo.

Speaking on the private Nova TV channel, Ms Slavova said the first warrant cited his possible association with one of the attackers, Cherif Kouachi.

This morning French newspaper Liberation published the latest Charlie Hebdo front cover online ahead of the satirical magazine’s publication tomorrow.

It shows the Prophet Mohammed against a green background with a tear streaming down his cheek, holding a sign reading Je Suis Charlie - the I Am Charlie rallying cry that has been used as a show of unity in the wake of the attacks.

French President Francois Hollande during a ceremony to pay tribute to the three police officers killed in the attacks, in Paris

The headline carries the phrase Tout Est Pardonne (All Is Forgiven), which French media have interpreted to mean Mohammed is forgiving the cartoonists for lampooning him. It will be the biggest print run in the magazine’s history.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg defended the cover as part of an “ideological struggle” to maintain a free society and suggested he could be among those snapping up a copy of the magazine.

“I’m not sure I’m going to buy it but I would defend the right to publish a cover like that,” he said.

“I don’t think you can have freedom unless you are also free to offend each other in an open society.”

French President Francois Hollande during a ceremony to pay tribute to the three police officers killed in the attacks, in Paris

But others say tomorrow’s cover goes too far.

Radical preacher Anjem Choudary described the latest depiction of Mohammed by Charlie Hebdo as an attempt to “incite Muslims even more”.

International broadcasters and publishers were this morning faced with the decision of whether to replicate the controversial cover.

The Guardian was among those to carry the front page on its website, while the cropped part of the design to remove the depiction of Islam’s prophet.

In a blog post on the Associated Press (AP) website, the news agency said it had previously taken the decision not to run Charlie Hebdo cartoons mocking Islam.

It said: “AP tries hard not to be a conveyor belt for images and actions aimed at mocking or provoking people on the basis of religion, race or sexual orientation. We did not run the Danish cartoons mocking Mohammed in 2005, or the Charlie Hebdo cartoons of the same type.

French President Francois Hollande during a ceremony to pay tribute to the three police officers killed in the attacks, in Paris

“While we run many photos that are politically or socially provocative, there are areas verging on hate speech and actions where we feel it is right to be cautious.”

A spokeswoman for UK newspaper and magazine wholesaler Smiths News said: “We are due to get a very limited supply of the title but full details are yet to be confirmed.”

She said she could provide no further information as details have to be agreed, but said that yesterday she had heard talk of about 1,000 copies.

A spokesman for Comag said the firm would be involved in the distribution of the magazine but expected to handle only a small number of copies.

He said no one at Comag had indicated any concerns about security, adding: “We’re here to serve our customers. If our customers are requesting it then it’s our job to service that.”

An spokesman at Menzies Distribution Ltd said: “I can confirm that Menzies Distribution will handle supplies of the upcoming Charlie Hebdo special edition.

“We don’t expect to face particular security issues, but we will take whatever precautions our security team believe are sensible to ensure the safety of our employees.”

Downing Street acknowledged that the publication of the cartoon could cause offence, but said David Cameron strongly supported the right of editors to decide what they published.

“What he wholeheartedly defends is the right of editors to make their own editorial decisions. That is at the heart of freedom of the press and freedom of expression,” the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.

Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Renald “Luz” Luzier told a press conference he had drawn Mohammed as a “man who is crying”.

“We are cartoonists and we like drawing little characters, just as we were as children,” he said.

“The terrorists, they were kids, they drew just like we did, just like all children do. At one point they lost their sense of humour. At one point they lost the soul of their child which allowed them to look at the world with a certain distance.

“I’m sorry we’ve drawn him yet again but the Mohammed we’ve drawn is a man who is crying.”

Charlie Hebdo’s editor-in-chief Gerard Biard told the press conference in Paris that three million copies of the magazine’s latest edition will go on sale for two weeks.

It will be translated into English, Spanish and Arabic, and versions will be available in Italy and Turkey, he said.

Mr Biard said the magazine, with the cartoon of Mohammed on the cover, had been “drawn up in pain and joy”.

“We’re happy to have got to it and it’s been tough,” he said.

“The main story was complicated because, of course, it had to say something about us, and it had to say something about the event we were faced with.

“This edition - the whole of Charlie Hebdo is in it. This edition is Charlie Hebdo.”

Mr Biard thanked the “thousands and thousands” of people who have sent messages of support, including Hollywood stars George Clooney and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has subscribed to the magazine.

“There will be a future, there’s no doubt about that,” he said. “We don’t quite know precisely what it’s going to look like.

“There’s going to be a paper. There won’t be an interruption. In other words, in two weeks’ time, there will be another Charlie Hebdo.”

Mr Cameron said Britain was at risk from a group of people who believed in a “fanatical death cult” of Islamic extremism.

Interviewed on Heart radio, he said he was not surprised that Charlie Hebdo had published an image of the prophet in its new issue, and other publications were free to do so.

“In a free country with free expression... it is perfectly clear - you can be offended sometimes,” Mr Cameron said.

“There will be many Muslims who are offended by a depiction of the prophet. But being offended by something is not a justification for violence.

“The overwhelming majority of Muslims completely understand and agree with that view.

“I am a Christian. I obviously don’t like seeing the religious things I hold dear mocked in an unpleasant way.

“But in a free country if people want to attack my religion and my beliefs you accept that because that is part of living in a free country.”