One million copies of Charlie Hebdo to be published for first anniversary of attack

The issue will feature cartoons from staff that died in the attacks, as well as messages of support

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A woman looks at flowers laid near the headquarters of magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Image: Remy de la Mauviniere / AP/Press Association Images

One million copies of a special issue of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo will be published to mark the first anniversary of an attack on the magazine's office last year.

12 people were killed when Islamist gunmen opened fire at the office in Paris.

The special edition will be released on January 6th - a day before the anniversary - and feature cartoons from staff that died in the attacks, as well as new cartoons and messages of support.

The popularity of the satirical magazine has soared since the attacks. Sales are reported to have jumped tenfold, with more than 180,000 subscribers.

The increased circulation came after 7.5 million copies of the first issue released after the attack were sold. The issue controversially featured a front page cartoon of the prophet Muhammad holding a sign reading 'Je Suis Charlie' - the slogan that went viral on social media in the aftermath of the attack.

However despite the increased popularity of the magazine, the last year has also seen internal division and the departure of key staff.

Columnist and doctor Patrick Pelloux has left the magazine. Quoted in the Irish Independent, he said, "my Charlie Hebdo died - the people who made it what it was were killed".

Meanwhile remaining staff have been forced to take extra security measures amid continued death threats.

Writing in The Guardian, Robert McLiam Wilson described visiting the new offices at a secret location.

"Being Northern Irish, security was not unfamiliar to me but this was on a different level," he explains. "It was the villain’s lair in one of the dumber Bond films, hermetically sealed, massively protected. And yet inside was a typical small magazine set-up".

As well as continuing to publish cartoons of the Muhammad, the magazine has continued to be at the centre of fresh controversy - including for one cartoon showing drowned Syrian child Alan Kurdi.

However McLiam Wilso also writes there is rampant misunderstanding of the magazine outside France, suggesting "Charlie’s target of choice has always been the right and the far-right. It is consistently and almost tediously anti-racist".