Saturday 18 November 2017

Divided 'Charlie Hebdo' staff plagued by death threats

‘Charlie Hebdo’ supporters. Photo: AFP
‘Charlie Hebdo’ supporters. Photo: AFP

David Chazan

Staff at the satirical magazine 'Charlie Hebdo' are plagued by death threats and divided by internal squabbles, despite the magazine's circulation rising tenfold.

A million copies of a special issue will be printed this week to mark the anniversary of the attack by Islamist gunmen who killed 12 people. It will feature cartoons by some of those killed, new material by staff, and messages of support for the provocative weekly with a long history of mocking religions, especially Islam.

The killings last January made 'Charlie Hebdo' a household name. The weekly that used to scrape by with sales of 30,000 now has more than 180,000 subscribers and distributes another 100,000 copies to newsagents, in addition to 10,000 sold outside France.

The inflow of money has caused squabbles. Some staff have demanded employees be made equal shareholders. It spends massively on security and recently moved to a new, heavily-guarded office. Some staff members have found it difficult to adapt to a life with police escorts and ­bodyguards.

"We've had death threats for years and we thought they would stop (after the attack), but they haven't. If anything, they've increased," said Patrick Pelloux, a 'Charlie Hebdo' columnist and a doctor who treated victims of the November 13 massacre in Paris in which 130 people died.

"We are at war with Islamist Nazis, because Nazis are what they are," Dr Pelloux said. "If they had their way, they'd censor all sorts of things, they would probably ban 'Mr Bean'."

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