Charlie Hebdo (French pronunciation: [ʃaʁli ɛbdo]; French for Charlie Weekly) is a French satirical weekly magazine, featuring cartoons, reports, polemics, and jokes. Irreverent and stridently non-conformist in tone, the publication describes itself as above all secular, skeptic, and atheist, far-left-wing, and anti-racist publishing articles about the extreme right (especially the French nationalist National Front party), religion (Catholicism, Islam, Judaism), politics and culture.
The Charlie Hebdo Magazine has been the target of two terrorist attacks, in 2011 and 2015. Both were presumed to be in response to a number of controversial Muhammad cartoons it published. In the second of these attacks, 12 people were killed, including publishing director Charb and several other prominent cartoonists.
Charlie Hebdo first appeared in 1970 as a companion to the monthly Hara-Kiri magazine, after a previous title was banned for mocking the death of former French President Charles de Gaulle. In 1981 publication ceased, but the magazine was resurrected in 1992. Its current editor-in-chief is Gérard Biard. The previous editors were François Cavanna (1970–1981) and Philippe Val (1992–2009). The magazine is published every Wednesday, with special editions issued on an unscheduled basis.
Origins in Hara-Kiri
In 1960, Georges “Professeur Choron” Bernier and François Cavanna launched a monthly magazine entitled Hara-Kiri. Choron acted as the director of publication and Cavanna as its editor. Eventually, Cavanna gathered together a team that included Roland Topor, Fred, Jean-Marc Reiser, Georges Wolinski, Gébé [fr], and Cabu. After an early reader’s letter accused them of being “dumb and nasty” (“bête et méchant”), the phrase became an official slogan for the magazine and made it into everyday language in France.
Hara-Kiri was briefly banned in 1961, and again for six months in 1966. A few contributors did not return along with the newspaper, such as Gébé, Cabu, Topor, and Fred. New members of the team included Delfeil de Ton [fr], Pierre Fournier (journaliste) [fr], and Willem.
In 1969, the Hara-Kiri team decided to produce a weekly publication – on top of the existing monthly magazine – which would focus more on current affairs. This was launched in February as Hara-Kiri Hebdo and renamed L’Hebdo Hara-Kiri in May of the same year. (Hebdo is short for hebdomadaire – “weekly”)