France marks three years since Charlie Hebdo attack
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France marks three years since Charlie Hebdo attack

President Macron lays wreath at former offices of satirical magazine where 11 journalists were massacred by terrorists in 2015

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo (1st L), French President Emmanuel Macron (2nd L), and others pay their respect during a memorial ceremony outside the Hyper Cacher supermarket to pay a tribute to the shoppers at the kosher store who were killed three years ago by an Islamist gunman in Paris, January 7, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / POOL / CHRISTIAN HARTMANN)
Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo (1st L), French President Emmanuel Macron (2nd L), and others pay their respect during a memorial ceremony outside the Hyper Cacher supermarket to pay a tribute to the shoppers at the kosher store who were killed three years ago by an Islamist gunman in Paris, January 7, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / POOL / CHRISTIAN HARTMANN)

PARIS, France — French President Emmanuel Macron laid a wreath in front of the former offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Sunday to mark three years since the massacre of its staff in an Islamist terror attack

At a low-key ceremony, in line with requests from the families of the victims for a sober commemoration, Macron was joined by journalists from the magazine, members of his government and the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo.

Two French terrorists who had sworn allegiance to al-Qaeda killed 11 people at Charlie Hebdo’s offices in 2015 over the staunchly atheist magazine’s satirical coverage of Islam and the prophet Mohammed.

The assault, which saw a policeman executed at pointblank range nearby, profoundly shocked France.

A wreath laid in commemoration of the victims of the jihadist attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo is pictured near the magazine’s offices in Paris on January 7, 2018, on the third anniversary of the attack. (AFP PHOTO / CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT)

It also marked the beginning of a series of terror attacks that have claimed 241 lives in total according to an AFP toll.

Charlie Hebdo, which prides itself on being provocative, returned to the murder of its famed cartoonists and writers in its latest issue.

“The 7th of January 2015 propelled us into a new world of armed police, secure entrances and reinforced doors, of fear and death,” wrote contributor Fabrice Nicolino in a column last week.

“And this in the heart of Paris and in conditions which do not honour the French republic. Do we still have a laugh? Yes,” he added.

The magazine pays €1-1.5 million ($1.2-1.8 million) in security costs annually to protect its offices which are at a secret location, its editor Riss wrote.

Sales meanwhile have fallen sharply since a wave of popular support following the bloodshed.

Company revenues fell to €19.4 million in 2016, down from more than €60 million in 2015, according to figures first reported by the BFM news channel and confirmed to AFP by the magazine.

A woman takes a selfie with portraits (LtoR) of late French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo’s deputy chief editor Bernard Maris, French cartoonists Georges Wolinski, Bernard Verlhac (aka Tignous), Charlie Hebdo editor Stephane Charbonnier (aka Charb) and Jean Cabut (aka Cabu) painted on a facade near the magazine’s offices at Rue Nicolas Appert, in Paris on January 7, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT)

Its journalists and editors still regularly receive death threats and the magazine courted fresh controversy in November with a front-page on the Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan who has been accused of sexually assaulting women.

The Swiss academic, who is widely read and followed in France, was depicted with a huge erection above the line: “I am the sixth pillar of Islam.”

The magazine also regularly mocks Christian and Jewish leaders as well as politicians of all stripes.

Two days after the Charlie Hebdo attack, another French terrorist took hostages at a Jewish supermarket in eastern Paris, killing five people before elite police raided the premises and shot him dead.

Anti-terror magistrates investigating the incidents are expected to finalise their probe in the next few months but have been unable to determine how the Charlie Hebdo killers — Cherif and Said Kouchi — coordinated with the supermarket shooter, Amedy Coulibaly.

They have also failed to track the source of the automatic weapons used by the Kouchi brothers for their killing spree.

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