Charlie Hebdo releases app as 'survivors' issue' sells out

French Muslims react to new Charlie Hebdo cover
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Story highlights

  • Charlie Hebdo releases app in wake of massive demand for latest issue
  • Controversial French satirical magazine to publish 5 million copies of first issue since attack
  • 12 people, including top cartoonists, were killed when gunmen stormed Charlie Hebdo's office last week

London (CNN)Want to get the latest issue of the world's most controversial magazine but can't get your hands on a paper copy? Don't worry, there's an app for that.

The Charlie Hebdo app features the so-called "survivors' issue" of the satirical magazine, which sold out within minutes in France and across Europe this week. Versions are available for iOS, Android and Windows Phone. Once downloaded, users can purchase the latest edition for $2.99.
    Twelve people, including several of France's most famous cartoonists, were massacred at Charlie Hebdo's Paris office last week by gunmen who claimed the attack was retribution for the magazine's notorious cartoon caricatures of Islam and the Prophet Mohammed.
    Thousands of people waited outside newsstands on Wednesday -- some lining up before dawn -- to buy the new issue in a show of solidarity with the surviving members of Charlie Hebdo's staff.
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    The magazine initially planned to publish 3 million copies of the issue -- 50 times the magazine's typical weekly circulation of 60,000 -- but upped it to 5 million as demand outstripped supply at stores across Europe.
    As shops ran out of copies, Charlie Hebdo columnist Patrick Pelloux wrote on Twitter, "Thank you, and rest assured we will reprint and redistribute."
    On Friday, hundreds of people still hoping to get their hands on a copy waited outside The French Bookshop in west London, which had limited sales of the in-demand issue to one copy per person.
    One customer, who identified herself as Ashley, had arrived at the shop at 6:30 a.m. She told CNN: "I'm an artist and a musician, so freedom of expression and speech is very vital to me."
    "I'm going to get my French flatmate to translate it for me and I'm probably going to keep it as a keepsake," another customer, who identified herself as Emily, told CNN as she left the shop with her copy.
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    The cover of the latest edition features a cartoon of a tearful Prophet Mohammed holding a banner that says "Je Suis Charlie" -- a message of support for those killed that spread from social media to the streets of Europe last week -- and a headline that declared "All is forgiven."
    Any depiction of Islam's prophet is considered blasphemy by many Muslims, and the latest edition received mixed reviews from the Muslim community.
    "My initial thought is that the cover is a near perfect response to the tragedy," said Hussein Rashid, a professor of Islamic thought at Hofstra University in New York.
    "They are not backing down from the depiction of Mohammed, exercising their free speech rights. At the same time, the message is conciliatory, humble, and will hopefully reduce the anger directed to the Muslim communities of France."
    Yahya Adel Ibrahim, an imam in Australia, took a dim view of the latest cover but urged his 100,000 Facebook followers to follow the example of Mohammed.
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    "As it is clear that the cartoons are to be published again, Muslims will inevitably be hurt and angered, but our reaction must be a reflection of the teachings of the one we love & are angered for," Ibrahim said. "Enduring patience, tolerance, gentleness and mercy was the character of our beloved Prophet."
    Charlie Hebdo is no stranger to controversy. In November 2011 the magazine's office was burned down on the same day it was due to release an issue with a cover that appeared to poke fun at Islamic law. The cover cartoon depicted a bearded and turbaned cartoon figure of the Prophet Mohammed with a bubble saying, "100 lashes if you're not dying of laughter."
    In September 2012, despite the ongoing global furor over the anti-Islam film "Innocence of Muslims," the magazine published an issue featuring a cartoon that appeared to depict a naked Mohammed, along with a cover that appeared to depict a Muslim man being pushed in a wheelchair by an Orthodox Jew. French and American officials expressed dismay with the decision, and France closed embassies and schools in about 20 countries temporarily as a precaution.
    Charlie Hebdo journalist Laurent Leger -- who survived last week's deadly attack -- defended the magazine at the time, saying the cartoons were not intended to provoke anger or violence.
    "The aim is to laugh," Leger told BFM-TV in 2012. "We want to laugh at the extremists -- every extremist. They can be Muslim, Jewish, Catholic. Everyone can be religious, but extremist thoughts and acts we cannot accept."
    "In France, we always have the right to write and draw. And if some people are not happy with this, they can sue us and we can defend ourselves. That's democracy," Leger said. "You don't throw bombs, you discuss, you debate. But you don't act violently. We have to stand and resist pressure from extremism."