Satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo, the target of a 2015 massacre by Islamic extremists, will republish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed to coincide with the start of a trial for the terror attack.
The 2015 attack left 12 people dead when gunman swarmed Charlie Hebdo’s offices, killing 11 employees and a policeman nearby in Paris. In the following days, additional attacks left five more people dead until three attackers were killed in shootouts with police.
Fourteen people charged with providing assistance to the gunmen are scheduled to go on trial over the killings beginning on Wednesday. Charlie Hebdo had long published controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, which is believed to be why the newspaper was targeted.
“The reasons for this coverage are as follows. These drawings are history now, and history cannot be rewritten, nor can it be erased,” wrote Charlie Hebdo director Laurent Sourisseau.
“This happened: it was the publication of these drawings, considered blasphemy by a number of Muslims, which was the motive for the January 7 massacre by assassins who wanted to, as they shouted on their way out from the premises of Charlie Hebdo, ‘Avenge the Prophet,'” Sourisseau continued. “These drawings are now part of history.”
Sourisseau wrote that the newspaper is often asked to produce more caricatures of Muhammad.
“We have always refused to do so, not because it is prohibited, the law allows us to do so, but because there was a need for a good reason to do it, a reason that makes sense and brings something to the debate,” Sourisseau wrote. “Reproducing these cartoons this week of the opening of the January 2015 terrorist attacks seemed essential to us.”
The cartoons that depicted the Prophet Muhammed often lampooned Islamic radicals.
“All the reasons that could be argued against us are political or journalistic cowardice. Do we want to live in a country that prides itself on being a great free and modern democracy, and which, at the same time, gives up on asserting its deepest convictions? For our part, it is out of the question. Except to live in another country, another regime, another world.”
The cover of the issue is expected to feature a Mohammed cartoon drawn by an artist who was killed in the attack.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.