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French magazine Charlie Hebdo placed German chancellor Angela Merkel variously on a toilet seat and a car mechanic’s hydraulic lift as it released its first German edition on Thursday.
The cover asserts that Volkswagen, the carmaker hit by an emissions cheating scandal, “stands behind Merkel”, and shows the chancellor lying atop a platform with a mechanic commenting that “with a new exhaust, she’ll be good to go another four years”.
The launch publicity featured a poster showing Merkel sitting on a toilet and reading the weekly, with the slogan: “Charlie Hebdo – it’s liberating.”
The magzine’s first foreign-language edition is an innovation undertaken nearly two years after its staff were almost wiped out in a jihadist attack in Paris.
The initial 16-page edition – with a print run of 200,000 – features a sober four-page graphic travel reportage by cartoonist and publisher Laurent Sourisseau, better known by his artist’s name Riss, which portrays people he met and their reflections on their national identity, Germany’s refugee influx and other social issues.
German media mainly warmly greeted the launch of Charlie Hebdo, which will compete with homegrown monthlies Titanic and Eulenspiegel, the local counterparts to Britain’s Private Eye and US site The Onion.
The Frankfurter Rundschau daily judged that, although the proudly tactless Charlie Hebdo regularly takes a running leap across the boundaries of good taste, its appearance on the German media scene was to be welcomed.
It contains humour “as subtle as a steamroller” and its “impudence, especially when dealing with the religions, is legendary”, the newspaper said. “The magazine is pure impertinence. From December 1, German readers will be subjected to it. What can we say? Quite simply: Welcome, Charlie Hebdo.”
Riss, who was badly wounded in the January 2015 attack, believes there is a market. “Humour is everywhere, even in Germany,” he told public broadcaster ARD. “It’s an experiment for us to publish Charlie Hebdo in another language and try to find new fans for the magazine who can help defend it.”
2016.12.01 / 11:48