A columnist who is leaving the French magazine Charlie Hebdo has said the magazine he loved "died a year ago" ahead of a special edition to mark the anniversary of the attack by Islamist gunmen that killed 12 people.

Dr Patrick Pelloux, a journalist and casualty doctor who called President Francois Hollande to tell him about the shootings last January, said: "My Charlie Hebdo died, the people who made it what it was were killed. We did survive, but part of us died."

A year on from the shootings, the satirical magazine's circulation has risen tenfold, but surviving staff are haunted by trauma, plagued by death threats and divided by internal squabbles.

A million copies of a special issue will be printed this week, including cartoons by some of those killed and messages of support for the left-wing weekly with a long history of mocking religions, especially Islam.


The weekly that used to scrape by with sales of less than 30,000 now has more than 180,000 subscribers and distributes another 100,000 copies to newsagents, in addition to 10,000 sold outside France.

But the unprecedented inflow of money has caused quarrels. Some staff have demanded that all employees be made equal shareholders.

It now spends massively on security and recently moved to a new, heavily guarded office at a secret address. Some staff have found it difficult to adapt to police escorts and bodyguards.

"We've had death threats for years and we thought they would stop [after the attack], but they haven't. If anything, they've increased," said Pelloux, 52, one of the first to treat those wounded in the November 13 massacre in Paris in which 130 people died.

"We are at war with Islamist Nazis, because Nazis are what they are. If they had their way, they'd censor all sorts of things. They'd probably ban Mr Bean."

Charlie Hebdo first attracted international attention by republishing a Danish newspaper's incendiary cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in 2006. Since the attack, it has continued to cause controversy with irreverent, often sexually explicit cartoons. It is frequently sued by religious groups and politicians.

It received about 20 death threats for a front-page cartoon last September depicting Aylan Kurdi, the Syrian child found dead on a Turkish beach whose picture prompted an outpouring of sympathy across the world. Charlie Hebdo showed the toddler's body beside a billboard advertising McDonald's children's menus, with a caption reading: "So close to the goal."

Two cartoons in November about the Russian airliner brought down by a bomb in Egypt prompted an official complaint from the Kremlin.

"Self-censorship is creeping in, but in France we are accustomed to black humour even if some people misunderstood the point of these cartoons," Pelloux said. "We were not mocking Aylan Kurdi or the Russians who died, we were making a point about hypocrisy.

"It goes back to the tradition of court jesters, the fools who spoke the truth to the king. Any censorship is appalling. We can't let radical Islamists who are trying to bring terror to the whole world set the editorial agenda."

Even in France, however, leading cartoonists and journalists have urged Charlie Hebdo to tone down its satire of Islam.

The magazine's editor, Laurent Sourisseau, 49, recently told the German magazine Stern that Charlie Hebdo may publish fewer caricatures of Mohammed, saying he does not want people to think it is "obsessed" with Islam.

Renald Luzier, known as Luz, whose cartoon of a tearful Mohammed appeared on the cover on the "survivors' edition" published after the January attack, has left, citing "fatigue".

And now Pelloux, 52, himself is quitting. He said the magazine "needs young people to ... reinvent itself".

Sourisseau, 49, admitted: "When we sold less, we were more relaxed. Now everyone is watching us."

Paris honours attack victims

• Paris will this week commemorate the victims of the attacks on the satirical Charlie Hebdo newspaper and a kosher supermarket that left 17 people dead in January last year.

• Commemorative plaques will be unveiled on Tuesday in the presence of families and government members to pay tribute to the victims on the different places where the attacks took place on January 7-9, 2015.

• Another ceremony will take place next Sunday on Paris' Republique plaza, which was transformed into an informal memorial following the attacks in the French capital in January and November. The Paris mayor's office has announced a "tree of remembrance" will be symbolically planted.

• Last week, France's highest decoration, the Legion of Honour, was awarded posthumously to the victims of the January attacks through a government decree.

- Daily Telegraph, AP