Charlie Hebdo republishes Muhammad cartoons ahead of trial over terror attack that killed 12 at magazine’s office

CHARLIE Hebdo is republishing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad to mark the start of the trial over a "revenge" terror attack which left 12 dead.

The French magazine became the focus of world attention in 2015 when two gunmen opened fire after storming its offices in Paris at the start of three days of bloodshed. 

Those responsible for the slaughter said the satirical publication had deliberately used blasphemy to stir up hatred against Muslims around the world.

The attackers were also shot dead by police, but this week 14 people will go on trial in the French capital in connection with the atrocities. 

Charlie Hebdo has responded in its latest issue by republishing a dozen of the mocking drawings which depict the prophet.

Centre-page on the cover is a cartoon of the prophet drawn by Jean Cabut, known as Cabu, who died in the massacre. 

The incendiary images originally led to riots across the Muslim world when they were first published in the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten on September 30, 2005.

Charlie Hebdo then published them in full in 2006, leading its writers and cartoonists to receive regular death threats. 

This led up to the atrocities of 2015, when two Paris-born brothers stormed into their offices with Kalashnikovs, and opened fire. 

As they fled, the terrorists were heard shouting: "We have killed Charlie Hebdo.

"We have taken revenge for the sake of the Prophet Muhammad."

The massacre united the country in grief with the slogan #JeSuisCharlie (I Am Charlie) going viral around the world.

Despite the bloodshed, Charlie Hebdo today carried the cartoons on its front page, under the headline 'Tout ça pour ça' ‘(All that for that). 

"We will never lie down. We will never give up," the magazine's director Laurent Sourisseau wrote in an editorial to go with the cartoons today. 

Its editorial team insisted that it was "essential" to republish the cartoons as the trial opens.

"We have often been asked since January 2015 to print other caricatures of Mohammed," it said.

"We have always refused to do so, not because it is prohibited — the law allows us to do so – 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 landmark trial opening on Wednesday will see the defendants facing a variety of charges including obtaining weapons and providing logistical support to the killers. 

More than 140 witnesses will be heard from in the case.

The trial is being viewed by victims, families and prosecutors as a historic accounting for crimes that wounded a nation and shocked the world.

However, three of the accused will be tried in their absence as it is believed they went to fight for ISIS in Syria. 

It was on January 7 2015 that brothers Saïd and Chérif Kouachi murdered 12 people in and around the Paris offices of the magazine.

Police officer Ahmed Merabet was killed as he tried to stop the assailants after the attack and four people were wounded. 

The Kouachi brothers died during a shootout with police at a printing office northwest of Paris two days later. 

Marie-Laure Barré and Nathalie Senyk, barristers representing the Charlie Hebdo victims, said in a statement: "This trial is an important moment for them.

"They are waiting for justice to be done to find out who did what, knowing that those who pulled the trigger are no longer there."

On 8 January 2015, Amédy Coulibaly shot dead a police officer, Clarissa Jean-Philippe, in the Paris suburb of Montrouge. 

The next day day, he took hostages at the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket in Vincennes.

There, he executed store employee Yohan Cohen and customers Philippe Braham, François-Michel Saada and Yoav Hattab before being killed in a police raid. 

In a video recording, Coulibaly said the attacks were co-ordinated and carried out in the name of ISIS. 

However, Al-Qaeda's Yemen branch also said its leadership had ordered the attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices. 

Patrick Klugman, lawyer for the victims at the Hyper Cacher, said: "This trial matters even though Amédy Coulibaly is dead. Without those defendants in the box, Coulibaly would never have been able to act."

The trial was scheduled to begin in April but was postponed because of the Covid-19 epidemic.It is expected to last until 10 November. 

After the Paris massacre, France suffered a string of deadly attacks most notably on November 13, 2015 when 130 people died and hundreds more were wounded in shootings and bombings in an around the capital.


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