charlie hebdo cover mohammed
The cover of the latest issue of Charlie Hebdo features the Prophet Mohammed holding a sign reading "Je Suis Charlie" [Content of a violent, sexual, racial or religious nature that some readers may find distressing or offensive. Viewer discretion is advised] Charlie Hebdo

Charlie Hebdo magazine's first edition after the deadly massacre, featuring a weeping Prophet Mohammed holding the iconic "Je Suis Charlie" sign, was already sold out within minutes at several kiosks across France, despite the exceptional three million copy-circulation.

Netizens were posting on Twitter pictures of long queues in front of French kiosks to buy a copy of the satirical magazine, whose print version will be available in six languages including Italian, Turkish and French.

The magazine has decided to publish three million copies – it sells about 60,000 copies usually – to show defiance against the perpetrators of the attack last week which killed 17 people including many of Charlie Hebdo's staff.

The cover also features a tagline in French reading "All is forgiven".

In Lyon and Paris, newsstands have already exposed signs reading "sold out"

Ahead of the release, Charlie Hebdo's surviving cartoonist released a statement explaining why he opted to feature the Prophet Muhammed.

Speaking at a press conference, French cartoonist Renald Luzier, also known as Luz said:

"I had the idea of drawing this character of Mohammed, as it's my character, because he existed, at least in people's hearts.

He is a character that got our offices burned, and a character who at first got us treated as the great white knights of the freedom of the press because the offices had burned down.

Then a year later when we redrew the character we were treated as dangerous, provocative and irresponsible. So this character led us to be called either white knights or provocateurs, whereas we are above all cartoonists who draw little people like children do.

The terrorists were once kids, they drew like us, like all kids, then one day they perhaps lost their sense of humour, perhaps their child soul was able to see the world from a bit of a distance, because that's Charlie – being able to draw the world from a small distance.

The only idea left was to draw Mohammed, I am Charlie. Then I looked at him, he was crying. Then above, I wrote: 'All is forgiven', and then cried. We had the front page, we had finally found this bloody front page. This was our front page.

This is not the front page that the terrorists want us to draw, as there are no terrorists in it, just a man who cries: it's Mohammed. I am sorry that we drew him again, but the Mohammed we drew is a Mohammed who is crying above all."

Charlie Hebdo Prophet Mohammad cartoons
Satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo news editor in chief Gerard Briard (L) and columnist Patrick Pelloux comfort cartoonist Luz (C) during a news conference at the French newspaper Liberation offices in Paris. Philippe Wojazer/Reuters