Christophe Ena / AP

Charlie Hebdo sells out before dawn in Paris

Lines form for first Charlie Hebdo published after assaults; weekly maintains its signature offensive tone

The latest issue of Charlie Hebdo appeared on French newsstands Wednesday and sold out before dawn, one week to the day after an assault by two masked gunmen killed 12 people, including much of the weekly magazine's editorial staff and two police officers.

One newsstand just off Paris' Champs-Elysée sold out at 6:05 a.m., five minutes after opening. At St.-Lazare, people hoping to buy a copy scuffled when they realized there weren't enough to go around. Some newsstand operators said they expected more copies to arrive on Thursday.

The deadly assault on Jan. 7 began three days of terror in France that saw 17 people killed before the three attackers, angry over how the magazine depicted the Prophet Muhammad, were gunned down by security forces.

French police say as many as six people suspected of helping plan and carry out the Paris attacks may still be at large. The country has deployed 10,000 troops to protect sensitive sites, including Jewish schools and synagogues, mosques and travel hubs.

In defiance of the attacks, the staff of Charlie Hebdo resurrected the irreverent and often provocative magazine, and people lined up to purchase the record-breaking issue with a cartoon on the cover of Muhammad holding a sign reading "Je suis Charlie" — drawing criticism and threats of more violence.

One of Egypt's top Islamic authorities, Dar Al-Ifta, warned against publishing the cartoon, calling the planned cover an "unjustified provocation" for millions of Muslims.

Working out of borrowed offices, surviving staffers published an unprecedented print run of 3 million copies, more than 50 times the usual circulation. The issue will appear in 16 languages, including Arabic, and will be sold in 25 countries.  

In Turkey the Cumhuriyet paper reported that police stopped trucks as they left its printing center to check the paper's content after it decided to print a selection of Charlie Hebdo caricatures.

Police allowed distribution of the newspaper to proceed on Wednesday after verifying that a four-page selection of cartoons and articles published in a show of solidarity with Charlie Hebdo did not include the weekly’s controversial cover featuring Muhammad.

In the French press run, the weekly unapologetically skewered other religions as well and bragged that Sunday's turnout of a million people at a march in Paris to condemn the attacks was larger "than for Mass."

The issue maintained the intentionally offensive tone that made the magazine famous in France. The first two pages included drawings by the slain cartoonists. One showed a well-known late French nun talking about oral sex; another showed Muslim, Christian and Jewish leaders dividing up the world.

The lead editorial laid out a vigorous defense of secularism and the magazine's right to lampoon religions and hold their leaders accountable — and ended with a critique of the pope.

"For the past week, Charlie, an atheist newspaper, has achieved more miracles than all the saints and prophets combined," it said in the edition's lead editorial. "The one we are most proud of is that you have in your hands the newspaper that we always made."

Al Jazeera with wire services

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