PARIS - Charlie Hebdo is back to business. That is, if a jihadist dog, an enraged pope, and animal caricatures of French far-right leader Marine Le Pen and former President Nicolas Sarkozy can be considered "business as usual."
They're featured on the cover of Charlie Hebdo's current issue, which hit newsstands on Wednesday. The staff last published a “survivors' issue” six weeks ago, shortly after they were targeted by Islamist gunmen in a January 7 attack.
“Here we go again!" the headline on the cover of the satirical weekly proclaims.
But is it really business as usual at the magazine?
The new issue has been described by collaborators as more "peaceful" than the first post-attack issue, which had a tearful Prophet Muhammad on its cover. The magazine also carried a message of thanks to its supporters after the attack.
Speaking on France Info radio, cartoonist Luz, who designed the “C’est reparti!” cover, said there is a joyous side to it.
Luz, whose real name is Renald Luzier, said he wanted to draw the return of joyous criticism that Charlie Hebdo is known for. And not to be obsessed by what the newspaper has experienced.
Luz escaped the January shootings that killed a dozen people at Charlie Hebdo. That's only because he arrived to work late. The Charlie Hebdo attack was followed by two other shootings in the Paris area that killed five others.
Police ultimately gunned down the three Islamist assailants -- Cherif and Said Kouachi, who attacked Charlie Hebdo, and Amedy Coulibaly, who killed a policewoman and four Jewish shoppers at a kosher supermarket -- two days later.
Delphine Halgand, U.S. director of Reporters Without Borders, said Charlie Hebdo must continue to be … well, Charlie Hebdo.
"I think the Charlie Hebdo team -- as all of us -- has the responsibility to continue this provocative fight, this humoristic fight for freedom of information. Terrorists can kill journalists, but they cannot kill our freedom,” Halgand said.
Gerard Biard, the weekly’s new chief editor, said earlier this month that starting February 25, Charlie Hebdo would begin publishing weekly again.
After last month's shootings, Charlie Hebdo came out with a survivors' issue just a week after the attack. It sold nearly 8 million copies. It also triggered angry protests in the Muslim world because its cover featured a cartoon of a tearful Prophet Mohammed.
About 2.5 million copies will be published for this issue, smaller than the survivors' issue, but much larger than the magazine’s pre-attack circulation of about 60,000.
People formed lines for that first issue, wanting to show their support for the magazine.
On Wednesday, sales of the current issue of Charlie Hebdo were more subdued.
At the newsstand at a busy central Paris train station, a steady stream of people picked up a copy early Wednesday. The kiosk owner said a small queue of people gathered shortly after the shop opened, keen to be among the first to buy copies.
At another newsstand in Paris, owner Gerard said the magazine is selling slowly but surely. It's better like that, he said. Otherwise, he'll spend the rest of the day telling people Charlie Hebdo is sold out.
At the Place de la Republique, in central Paris, people still stop to read inscriptions at a battered shrine for the victims of last month's attacks.
Among visitors to the plaza is Tunisian Mahfoudh Thahri and his friends.
Thahri said Muslims like himself are worried about what's happening. Everybody is against terrorism. But he won't buy a copy of Charlie Hebdo, because the newspaper mocks his religion.
Laure Perucho, walking nearby, said she bought Charlie Hebdo's survivors' issue. She didn't know about this new one.
'I'll keep on buying it'
But Sylvia Renard said, “I discovered Charlie Hebdo when the last edition came out and I liked it a lot and so I'll keep on buying it.”
Perucho said that more than a month after the Paris attacks, it's almost as if they never took place. Nobody talks about them any more. Just a few people on Facebook, including herself, are still behind the "I am Charlie" slogan.
And maybe that's Charlie Hebdo's biggest challenge. Not anger at its satire, but indifference and a sense the attacks are yesterday's news.
Some material for this report came from Reuters and AFP.