Hundreds queue for Charlie Hebdo

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Published: Friday 16th January 2015 by The News Editor

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Hundreds of people queued for hours outside newsagents and bookshops across the UK today to buy copies of the first Charlie Hebdo magazine since the deadly shootings in Paris.

Demand has been high for the magazine’s new issue, which carries a front-cover cartoon of a crying Prophet Mohammed, in the wake of last week’s attack that saw gunmen kill 12 people at its offices.

More than 1,000 copies are thought to have been made available in the UK, as newsagents braced themselves for a rush.

Around 200 people were queuing from the early hours outside the French Bookshop, in South Kensington, London, which limited sales of Charlie Hebdo to one copy per customer.

Some people started waiting outside the shop shortly after midnight, including Moritz Riewoldt, from Germany, who arrived at 12.20am and was one of the first to emerge with the magazine shortly after 8.15am.

The 22-year-old who lives in Putney, south west London, said: “It’s important to be here to support the freedom of the press. I know what it can mean to a country.

“If you’re scared of saying what you think, I know where this can lead.

“It’s part of history and you can probably tell your grandchildren that.

“It’s a stick-up to the terrorists to say you’re not going to get us down this easily and make a stand.”

A reported five million copies of the magazine are being printed, its largest-ever run, with translations into English, Spanish and Arabic, and versions available in the UK, Italy and Turkey.

The first batch of around 500,000 copies sold out quickly and several have appeared on online auction site eBay attracting four-figure bids, well in excess of the modest three-euro (£2.30) cover price.

Wholesalers Smiths News, Comag and Menzies Distribution said they would be distributing it.

Arnaud Isnard, 29, who is originally from Marseille but now lives in Cambridge, began queuing for the magazine at 5am.

He said: “In France I used to read Charlie Hebdo and it’s a publication I really like. After what happened in Paris, I really wanted to have a read and see how they went through this terrible event.

“What happened in France was enough to show that if you want to kill people, it’s not going to have the right impact. It’s only going to antagonise people and make people feel more united.”

Caty Acha, 29, who is originally from Spain but lives in Clapham, south London, said: “I wanted to support the magazine and the cartoonists to show that freedom of speech is more important than anything else.

“It’s a part of history and I want to keep it for future generations and to remember what shouldn’t happen again.

“This front page isn’t really offensive. One of the policemen was Muslim and he was protecting freedom of speech and other people’s lives.”

Student Emmanuel Akinwotu, 25, from south London, said: “I’m not here out of any exuberant solidarity with the magazine but I do think what happened to them was tragic and I think it’s great they can republish again.

“I think a lot of the things they publish tinker on racism and Islamophobia … but at the same time I think they have a right to do what they do. They certainly shouldn’t be gunned down for cartoons.”

Interest in the new edition of Charlie Hebdo prompted more than 50 British Muslim leaders to appeal for calm from the Islamic community in response to the front-cover cartoon.

In an open letter, the imams and religious leaders wrote: “With dignified nobility we must be restrained, as the Koran says ‘And when the ignorant speak to them, they say words of peace’.

“Most Muslims will inevitably be hurt, offended and upset by the republication of the cartoons. But our reaction must be a reflection of the teachings of the gentle and merciful character of the prophet (peace be upon him).

“Enduring patience, tolerance, gentleness and mercy, as was the character of our beloved prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is the best and immediate way to respond.”

Published: Friday 16th January 2015 by The News Editor

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