Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine, announced on Tuesday that it would republish several cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammed. The cartoons, which originally appeared in the Danish press in 2005 and were published by Charlie Hebdo in 2006, touched off a firestorm of anger from across the Muslim world which decried them as blasphemous. They are cited as the impetus for a series of deadly attacks carried out by two brothers, Saïd and Cherif Kouachi, on January 7, 2015.
The attack on the magazine’s headquarters claimed the lives of 12 people, nine of whom worked for the magazine. During the ensuing manhunt for the brothers, a known associate, Amedy Coulibaly, stormed a kosher supermarket, where he took 19 hostages and murdered four. Both Coulibaly and the Kouachi brothers were killed by police forces on January 9, 2015.
The announcement comes just days before the trial of the alleged accomplices of the Kouachi brothers and Coulibaly. The trial, which has been delayed by a lengthy five-year investigation, will commence on Wednesday with open questioning. It is likely to last for several months. On the decision to republish the cartoons a spokesperson for the magazine said they “belong to history, and history cannot be rewritten nor erased.”
According to several reports, the magazine has been asked several times to republish the drawings since the attacks. “We have always refused to do so, not because it is prohibited — the law allows us to do so,” a spokesperson stated on Tuesday, “but because there was a need for a good reason to do it, a reason which has meaning and which brings something to the debate.” The magazine cover published on Wednesday contains several cartoons. At the center is a one illustrated by cartoonist Jean Cabut who was among those killed in the January 2015 attack.