After the Attack: The Future of 'Charlie Hebdo'

Charlie Hebdo
A man holds a placard that reads, “I am Charlie” during a gathering at the Place de la Republique after the terrorist attack in Paris on January 7, 2015. Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

When heavily armed gunmen stormed the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday, Gerard Biard, the satirical magazine's editor-in-chief was on a trip to London. Now, in the aftermath of the assault, which left 10 staffers dead, including the editorial director, the publication is faced with the daunting task of rebuilding.

"I don't understand how people can attack a newspaper with heavy weapons," Biard told France Inter radio. "A newspaper is not a weapon of war."

Biard has yet to comment on the future of the magazine, but already three media companies have offered staff and support, and Charlie Hebdo's website is once again up, just hours after it went down following the assault.

Among the dead on Wednesday was Stephane Charbonnier, the editorial director, who was known by his pen name "Charb." In 2012, he told French newspaper Le Monde that he'd rather "die standing than live on my knees."

The magazine was equally as bold. It's long been known for skewering politicians and religious figures alike with mordant wit and caustic cartoons. No one escaped its aim—not the pope, the president or the Prophet Muhammad.

The gunmen—whom witnesses reportedly said claimed an Al-Qaeda affiliation—called the killings revenge for the magazine's depiction of Muhammad. (Islam bans depictions of the Prophet.)

Charlie Hebdo often took heavy flak for its cartoons, which some, especially in the Muslim community, have called inflammatory. But the editors remained steadfast. "I don't blame Muslims for not laughing at our drawings," Charb once told Reuters. "[But] I live under French law. I don't live under Quranic law."

Despite the offers of support, some have begun to question what's next for the magazine. Lars Vilks, a Swedish artist who has drawn cartoons of Muhammad and lives under police protection as a result, questioned whether the Paris-based publication has a future at all.

"This will create fear among people on a whole different level than we're used to," he told NBC News. "Charlie Hebdo was a small oasis. Not many dared do what they did. I don't know what's going to happen to them."