French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, long beloved for its mockery of religious extremism, will mark the one year anniversary of the terrorist attack on its Paris offices with a cover featuring a blood-spattered, AK47-toting deity accompanied by the words, "One year on: the assassin is still out there."
On January 7th, 2015, brothers Cherif and Saif Kouachi stormed Charlie Hebdo's offices in eastern Paris armed with high-powered rifles and opened fire on the magazine's daily editorial meeting. Twelve people, including eight members of the magazine's staff, were killed in the attack.
The rampage was intended as revenge for the magazine's satirization of the prophet Muhammad, whose depiction in media is prohibited by Islam. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed responsibility for the attack, and the magazine responded by printing yet another illustration of Muhammad in their first issue following the massacre.
The God-like character — or "assassin" — on the cover of the special anniversary addition is presumably intended to represent radical Islam as an ideology, rather than any specific organization. In an accompanying editorial, magazine manager Laurent Sourissea said the cover denounces “fanatics brutalized by the Koran” and ridicules those fanatics who might target free-thinking publications for “daring to laugh at the religious."
The attacks traumatized Paris and foreshadowed the much larger, terrorist attack in the French capital in November 2015, which killed more than 130 people. It was ISIS, not AQAP, who claimed responsibility for the most recent attack on Paris.
One million copies of the special edition will hit newsstands in France on Wednesday, and tens of thousands more will be sold elsewhere throughout the world. The edition will include a collection of cartoons by the five Hebdo cartoonists slain in the attack, as well new material echoing Sourissea's editorial.
In a world where Americans are more worried about Islamic terror than ever before, Charlie Hebdo's triumphant anniversary issue might serve as something of a rallying cry to the West. In the end, it looks like the pen was, in fact, mightier than the sword.