The latest cover of Charlie Hebdo includes the Pope, former French president Nicolas Sarkozy and National Front leader Marine Le Pen
The latest cover of Charlie Hebdo includes the Pope, former French president Nicolas Sarkozy and National Front leader Marine Le PenCharlie Hebdo

Charlie Hebdo celebrated its comeback with a cover that pays tribute to its tradition of stirring controversy through satire in the second issue of the magazine since members of its staff were killed by Islamist shooters in Paris in January. But the weekly's decision not to depict the Prophet Mohammed surprised many.

Illustrated by Luz, the surviving Charlie Hebdo cartoonist behind the weekly's controversial Prophet Mohammed covers, the latest cover depicts recognisable figures paving the way for an enraged mob in the pursuit of a fleeing dog, carrying a copy of the magazine between his teeth.

The bright red cover evokes terror and blood - the cartoon stages an absurd human tragedy that BFMTV - a French television channel - covers with its microphone above the crowd, which includes National Front leader Marine Le Pen, former president Nicolas Sarkozy and Pope Francis drooling alongside a jihadist and a banker.

Gerard Biard, the paper's new chief editor, explained his decision: "We needed to tell our readers and us too ['Here we go again']. We needed this type of cover. It reminds us of all our enemies and all the pains in the ass who are constantly after us, that have never let us go and that I hope will let us go one day."

While the cover does depict a jihadist, it has surprised many by avoiding to repeat its depictions of Islam's Prophet Mohammed, which had divided public opinion in France and angered large parts of the Muslim community.

"There is no cartoon of Mohammed because Mohammed is not a pain in the ass. Mohammed is just a poor image that is instrumentalised by people who throw it in the news - let's call them terrorists," Biard told France 24. "In this instance, Mohammed had no reason to figure on our cover."

Back to normal

Journalists at the weekly, still reeling from the loss of their murdered colleagues, hope the future of the newspaper will be more serene.

"I'm glad I [drew] a happy thing," said Luz, the author of the previous cover, "All is forgiven".

The cartoonist told Liberation he was "delighted to have drawn animals. Mostly dogs: they are irresponsible and subjected animals. Irresponsible is Charlie, submissive, with all the other ones running after it".

The second issue since the attacks on 7 January includes an interview with the Greek minister of economy and articles on the Dominique Strauss-Kahn trial, the Paris International Agricultural Show, the Copenhagen attacks and the desecration of a Jewish cemetery.

"I had trouble writing, I did not know whether to talk again about the attack or not... Finally, I chose [to cover] the flu!" columnist Patrick Pelloux said.

For the latest issue of the magazine, 2.5 millon copies have been printed - higher than the typical print run of 50,000.

Charlie Hebdo has promised that after a six-week interruption, necessary for many after the shock of the massacre, the newspaper will resume its weekly basis.

Since the attacks, the number of subscribers has dramatically risen; they now reach 200,000, 20 times the figure for January.

The publication also hosts two new designers, the Dilem, an Algerian, and Pétillon, who already works for satirical newspaper Le Canard Enchaîné.