Charlie Hebdo ‘survivor’s issue’ scarce in Cambridge

Maria Smickersgill 21 January 2015

A Cambridge newsagent has decided not to stock the latest issue of Charlie Hebdo.

King’s News on King’s Parade had originally ordered in copies of what has been dubbed the ‘survivor’s issue’ of Charlie Hebdo due to customer demand, but the shop’s owner Jas Aujla has since decided not to stock it for reasons of “safety”.

He told Cambridge News earlier in the week, “I am not stocking it, basically, for the safety of my shop,” he said. “I’ve got girls who work here and I don’t want them getting hassle for one magazine.”

He added that he’d encountered opposition to his decision not to stock the magazine. “We have had lots of idiots coming in, people arguing with us saying ‘Why are you not stocking it?’”

The magazine’s front cover has already sparked controversy, with protests in Pakistan and Iran, for its depiction of the prophet Muhammad teary-eyed and holding a Je suis Charlie’ sign below the legend ‘Tout est pardonné’ (all is forgiven).

King’s News is not alone in their decision to not stock Charlie Hebdo, with many news retailers, including WHSmiths, refusing to or being unable to stock the magazine due to the limited number of copies being sold in the UK.

Estimates predict that around 2,000 copies of the projected print run of 5 million, extended from 1 million originally and then to 3 million, have been sold in the UK.

On the day of its publication, bids for the magazine on Ebay’s UK site reached the staggering figure of £1,550.

However, the Alliance Francaise on Hills Road has been holding copies of the French satirical magazine for Cambridge residents to read since its publication on 14 January.

Patricia Dalby, director of the Alliance Francaise de Cambridge, speaking to Cambridge News, explained her concern that the issue should be dealt with sensitively; “We have to be careful how we handle this. We cannot sell it, it would not be right.”

One undergraduate from Trinity Hall praised the Alliance Francaise saying that, “although I understand that some people will be offended by the magazine’s content, I think this issue, published in the aftermath of the Paris shootings has become a historical document and it’s good that residents and students in Cambridge have access to it.”