Paris: Charlie Hebdo's defiant new issue sold out before dawn around Paris on Wednesday, with scuffles at kiosks over dwindling copies of the paper fronting the Prophet Mohammed. In the city still shaken by the deaths of 17 people at the hands of Islamic extremists, a controversial comic who appeared to be praising the men was taken into custody.
The core of the irreverent newspaper's staff perished a week ago when gunmen stormed its offices, killing 12. Those who survived put out the issue that appeared on newsstands Wednesday, working out of borrowed offices, with a print run of 3 million — more than 50 times the usual circulation.
The storming of the newspaper was the opening salvo of three days of terror and bloodshed in the Paris region, ending when security forces killed all three gunmen on Friday.
France's government was preparing tougher anti-terrorism measures, and there were growing signs that authorities were ready to use current laws to their fullest extent. Wednesday's detention of Dieudonne for defending terrorism followed a four-year prison sentence involving the same charge for a man in northern France who seemed to defend the attacks in a drunken rant while resisting arrest.
French police say as many as six members of a terrorist cell that carried out the Paris attacks may still be at large, including a man seen driving a car registered to the widow of one of the gunmen. The country has deployed 10,000 troops to protect sensitive sites, including Jewish schools and synagogues, mosques and travel hubs.
Dieudonne, who popularized an arm gesture that resembles a Nazi salute and who has been convicted repeatedly of racism and anti-Semitism, is no stranger to controversy. His provocative performances were banned last year but he has a core following among many of France's disaffected young people.
His Facebook post, which was swiftly deleted, said he felt like "Charlie Coulibaly" — merging the names of Charlie Hebdo and Amedy Coulibaly, the gunman who seized a kosher market and killed four hostages, along with a policewoman.
Solidarity for Charlie Hebdo, although not uniform, was widespread in France and abroad.
On Wednesday, the new issue vanished from kiosks immediately. Some newsstand operators said they expected more copies to arrive on Thursday. One kiosk near the Champs Elysees, open at 6 a.m., was sold out by 6:05. Another, near Saint-Lazar, reported fisticuffs among customers.
"Distributing Charlie Hebdo, it warms my heart because we say to ourselves that he is still here, he's never left," said Jean-Baptiste Saidi, a van driver delivering copies well before dawn on Wednesday.
Updated Date: Jan 14, 2015 17:29:31 IST