Charlie Hebdo has announced it is printing a total of 7 million copies of the once-obscure French satirical magazine.
The new total reflects extraordinary demand for what has become known as Charlie Hebdo survivor’s issue.
The latest edition was produced in the days immediately following a terrorist attack at the magazine’s office in Paris. The attackers were apparently motivated by the magazine’s criticisms of Islam and depictions of the Prophet Mohammed.
The cover of the new issue has a cartoon of the prophet holding up a sign that reads ” Je suis Charlie” (I Am Charlie).
Customers at newsstands continue to seek copies of the issue – not just in France, where there were long lines observed earlier this week, but also in Germany, where the magazine went on sale on January 17.
There were local reports that the copies quickly sold out in cities like Berlin and Hamburg.
“We could have ordered 500 copies — they would have sold out,” a vendor at the main train station in Stuttgart told DPA, Germany’s main news agency.
For some, buying a copy is a way to show solidarity with the magazine and support freedom of expression.
Charlie Hebdo‘s French distributor, MLP, has been trying to keep pace with demand.
Roughly one million copies each were distributed on January 14, 15 and 16. Technical problems limited the number of copies available in France over the weekend, so it’ll take several days to reach the 5 million mark.
On January 17, MLP boosted the planned total to 7 million.
Le Figaro newspaper called it “a record in the history of the French press”.
A small number of copies began to reach the US on January 16, and more are expected to go on sale in the coming days.
To put the 7 million figure in perspective, only a small number of US magazines print that many copies – AARP The Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, and Game Informer Magazine.
While support for the new issue has been widespread, opposition to the Mohammed drawing on the cover has been expressed by Islamic leaders and government officials in a number of countries in the Middle East and Africa.
Charlie Hebdo’s cover has been described as insulting to Muslims and needlessly provocative.
Protests against the new cover were reported in Pakistan, Jordan, Algeria, Niger, Mali, Somalia, Senegal, and Mauritania.
Meanwhile, Charlie Hebdo’s surviving editors of the magazine have said little about their plans for future issues, but they have vowed to keep publishing.
Charlie Hebdo has sold 1.9 million copies of its survivor’s edition, which has provoked protests by Muslims around the globe over a new cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad.
The French satirical magazine’s distribution has been hit by printing problems, with only 230,000 copies ready against the one million that had been expected to ship this weekend, its distributor MLP said.
The technical problem had been resolved and “distribution will resume normally on Monday”, MLP said.
The latest issue was the first since two Islamist gunmen stormed Charlie Hebdo‘s Paris office on January 7 and massacred 12 people, saying they were taking revenge for previous publications of Muhammad cartoons – considered deeply offensive to many Muslims.
Charlie Hebdo defiantly published what it called the “survivors’ issue” on January 14, featuring Prophet Mohammed in a white turban and holding a sign that reads “Je suis Charlie” under the words: “All is forgiven”.
News agents on January 16 received another million copies of the issue, which “is still selling well” but not in the frenzy seen the previous two days after the issue came out, according to the French printing union UNDP.
On January 14 and 15, the 27,000 news outlets in France sold out within hours, with newspaper vendors selling a total of 1.2 million copies.
In addition, hundreds of thousands of copies have been bought by companies, institutions and communities.
Parisian theatres bought 25,000 copies to distribute to patrons and Air France took tens of thousands for its passengers, said MLP.
A further 150,000 are being shipped abroad. Germany is the largest buyer, with MLP to deliver 55,000 copies by January 19.
A total of five million copies of the issue will be printed, with deliveries continuing next week.
Prior to the attacks, the magazine sold around 60,000 copies a week.
Charlie Hebdo has also launched an app that let readers download the magazine.