Shrine Dedicated to Victims of Charlie Hebdo Massacre Repeatedly Vandalised, but Defiant Magazine Declares ‘We’re Back!’

Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP
Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP

A shrine set up to commemorate the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attacks has been vandalised four times in the last two weeks. The satirical paper has refused to be cowed, however, and will publish its next edition tomorrow.

Following the attacks by Islamist gunmen which claimed 17 lives, a shrine was set up in Place de la Republique in central Paris consisting of flowers, photos, and notes left by various well-wishers.

It was set up by a group, “17 Never Again” who tend to the shrine, light candles, and cover the notes with plastic. But according to Sabrina Deliry, the head of the group, the shrine has been vandalised four times over the last two weeks, with the objects being torn up, scattered, and kicked around.

“We’re sickened and disgusted,” she told the Telegraph. “It’s not the wind or the rain that did it as even objects and messages that were covered have been vandalised. When this happened before, we repaired the damage without saying anything, but this is too much.”

Rémy Vialeret, another member of the group said that previous attacks had done less damage, but in the most recent attack, last Sunday, wreaths, messages and drawings were all ripped up and scattered. “This time, they wrecked everything.” The group has filed a police complaint.

Tomorrow marks seven weeks to the day of the attack, in which five Charlie Hebdo cartoonists and three journalists were killed. Four others, including the personal bodyguard of Stéphane Charbonnier, editor in chief of the magazine, also died in the magazine’s offices.

A “survivors issue” was published a week after the attack, featuring Mohammed on the front cover with a tear in his eye, holding a “Je Suis Charlie” sign under the headline “All is Forgiven”. But since then the team has laid low.

“We needed a break, a rest… There were those who needed to work again straight away, like me, and those who wanted to take more time,” says Gerard Biard, the paper’s new chief editor. “So we reached a compromise, and agreed on February 25th… to start off again on a weekly basis.”

Tomorrow’s cover features a swipe at the magazine’s usual targets: it depicts the Pope, jihadists, Nicolas Sarkozy and Marine Le Pen as a pack of rabid animals chasing a dog carrying a copy of Charlie Hebdo clamped in its mouth. The headline reads “We’re back!”

Biard has said that the contents will inevitably deal with freedom of expression, especially in the wake of the attack in Copenhagen on the 14th and 15th of February which took place initially at a conference on free speech.

“It’s just as relevant as before. I know some will say that we are obsessed, but we’re not the ones who are obsessed,” Biard said. “It’s those who create the news who are obsessed. And those who create it are terrorists. After Copenhagen, we will be forced to talk about it again. But there’s also Dominique Strauss-Kahn, it’s lucky we have him!”

Charlie Hebdo columnist Patrick Pelloux said in a television interview: “For this issue, we’re starting over. The funerals have taken place, we have to make do with the absence of the others, and that’s where it’s tough.

“We’ve been realizing for some time that they didn’t just go away on holiday. The newspaper, just like any newspaper, must continue because life goes on, the news continues.”

The editorial team is currently working within the offices of left-wing daily Libération, but are hoping to move into their own premises within the next few weeks. They have confirmed that they are seeking a location which can be fitted with a security entrance.