It must feel a bit like eerie déjà vu for the staff of Charlie Hebdo. In January, multiple militant extremists ambushed the satirical newspaper's offices and killed 11 people, including several staff members. Last Friday, not even a year after that incident, Paris endured its worst terrorist attack in history, when numerous militants launched assaults in six locations across the city, killing 129 people. As it did in January, Charlie Hebdo has responded to the Paris attacks with a message on its cover. The cover of the first issue since the Paris attacks is both a show of defiance against ISIS and a celebration of France's rich, resilient culture.
On Tuesday, Charlie Hebdo released an image of its latest issue on social media ahead of its publication on Wednesday. On the cover is a cartoon of a man dancing and drinking champagne as the liquid pours out of his body through multiple bullet holes. The caption reads: "Ils ont les armes. On les emmerde. On a le champagne!" In English: "They have the weapons. Fuck them. We have the champagne!" If the primary goal of terrorism is to terrorize, then the newspaper is showing how miserably ISIS has failed.
The show of defiance is reminiscent of the newspaper's response to its own attack. On January 7, 2015, two militants armed with assault rifles charged the publication's building and opened fire, killing 11 people and injuring 11 more. Among the deceased were five cartoonists and four members of the editorial team. The motive for the attack was supposedly the extremists' anger over the newspaper's satirical depictions of the prophet Muhammad. Rather than shrink away from controversy out of fear, Charlie Hebdo released a new cover that poignantly responded to the tragedy.
The caption on the cover reads: "All is forgiven." According to surviving Charlie Hebdo columnist Zineb El Rhazoui, the cover at once paid tribute to the victims and urged people to forgive the terrorists. She told BBC Radio 4:
We don’t feel any hate to them. We know that the struggle is not with them as people, but the struggle is with an ideology.
To exhibit such tolerance after such a heinous act exemplifies fearlessness, as does Charlie Hebdo's latest cover. Its newest message once again demonstrates the spirit of the satirical newspaper, but above all, it's a testament to the strength of French culture. You can't kill something that's so alive.