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'Charlie Hebdo' Keeps The Presses Running, Will Print 3 Milllion Copies


Tomorrow morning a special edition of the French satirical weekly, Charlie Hebdo, will go on sale in Paris and throughout France. It will be one week since the publication's office was attacked by gunmen claiming to be affiliated with al-Qaeda. Twelve people were killed. Charlie Hebdo's staff said they would not be cowed into silence. From Paris, NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: In normal times, Charlie Hebdo barely sold 60,000 copies. The magazine was struggling and had appealed to its readers for donations. But these are not normal times. Tomorrow morning, 3 million copies of the magazine will hit the newsstands, and the issue will be translated into several languages, including Arabic. Barely had the bodies been taken away from the scene last Wednesday when the remaining staff of Charlie Hebdo knew they must go on, says Gerard Briard, editor-in-chief.

GERARD BRIARD: (Through interpreter) Of course we have to publish - first of all, because we don't know how to do anything else. But, secondly, it's out of the question that we stop Charlie Hebdo because that would mean they won, and that is impossible.

BEARDSLEY: Despite the threat of further attack, the remaining staff of the magazine continued to work this week, setting up temporary shop at another French newspaper.

Charlie Hebdo has moved from its location that was attacked and is operating in the offices of the newspaper Liberation. Of course, the street is guarded by armed policemen. And, as you can imagine, the entrance is heavily guarded.

Upstairs, Charlie Hebdo's staff huddled in a newsroom with several plainclothes police sitting outside the door. Despite offers of help to get the issue out, the surviving journalists said they wanted to do it on their own. No one has been allowed in to get a glimpse of the upcoming issue. Charlie Hebdo reporter Laurent Leger, who was in the editorial meeting as it came under attack last week, gave a few hints when he came out for a break.

LAURENT LEGER: (Through interpreter) We're going to feature the drawings of those who were killed. We just want to do a regular issue for our regular readers and cover the news, which happens to be us right now. We want to show that Charlie Hebdo is not dead, even if half our newsroom is no longer with us.

BEARDSLEY: French television cameraman Herve Gasparini is trying to get a few sneak shots of the much-anticipated issue. Gasparini grew up in the '70s and '80s, which he calls Charlie Hebdo's heyday. He says his brother was a huge fan, and there was always a copy of the provocative magazine in his house.

HERVE GASPARINI: It was always funny, for sure. And we had a lot of fun with that because half of the family was shocked and the other was laughing at them being shocked.

BEARDSLEY: The gunmen who attacked Charlie Hebdo claimed they were taking revenge for the magazine's depiction of the Muslim prophet, Muhammad. But staff members say the magazine is not Islamophobic and is only fighting to keep religion out of public life. Charlie Hebdo has also been the target of more than a dozen lawsuits by Catholic groups over the years, but now financial help is pouring in. British newspaper The Guardian is giving 100,000 pounds, and Google is reported to be chipping in $300,000. Charlie Hebdo journalist Patrick Pelloux says the world's support is unbelievably uplifting.

PATRICK PELLOUX: (Through interpreter) I am Charlie. For me, that means I love you - a planetary slogan that means I love you and no to terrorism of any kind.

BEARDSLEY: Earlier today, excerpts of the latest issue were leaked to the press. The issue's 16 pages mocked jihadists and pay homage to the victims. On the cover is a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad with a tear running down his cheek, holding a sign that says, je suis Charlie. Above him is a banner that reads, all is forgiven. Eleanor Beardsley, NPR News, Paris. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Eleanor Beardsley began reporting from France for NPR in 2004 as a freelance journalist, following all aspects of French society, politics, economics, culture and gastronomy. Since then, she has steadily worked her way to becoming an integral part of the NPR Europe reporting team.