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Satirical Magazine 'Charlie Hebdo' Creates A German Edition, Takes On Nationalist Movements


The French humor magazine Charlie Hebdo now has a foreign edition in Germany. The weekly became known around the world after two brothers attacked its Paris offices and killed 12 people. That was almost two years ago, and it wasn't clear at that point that the magazine could continue publishing, let alone expand. We're joined now by Minka Schneider. She's the editor of Charlie Hebdo's new German edition. She's with us via Skype from Paris. Thanks so much for being with us, Minka.


MARTIN: Hi. We should start by telling our listeners that Minka Schneider is a pseudonym. Why not use your real name?

SCHNEIDER: Yeah. There's just one simple reason - that I want to focus on my work and that means that it's, in my opinion, not so important who's doing it but just, you know, the fact that it's done. Of course, security reasons are always in our minds because it's a special newspaper. People are aware of the danger that is still there. Because even after the attack, the danger goes on.

MARTIN: Of all the countries in Europe to expand into, why Germany?

SCHNEIDER: Because there has been so much solidarity from the German people after the attacks. And there was a huge debate in Germany about liberty of expression, you know, and that was something that encouraged the people here to try it in Germany. And then there's another reason - France and Germany are a real important relation in Europe. And Charlie Hebdo's becoming more and more European in a kind of way so that the issues become more global.

MARTIN: Your first cover came out last Thursday, and you featured an image of Angela Merkel, the German chancellor who is seeking a fourth term. She's not looking too flattering in this image. She's pretty bedraggled and lying on a hydraulic lift in a Volkswagen repair shop, presumably indicating that she's feeling fatigued after so long in office. She's kind of an easy target.

SCHNEIDER: She is definitely. But yeah, the way that we try to present her was also doing the link to German quality, you know, the (speaking German). And then you really know very well what Volkswagen did in the last years. So we thought it would be pretty funny if it's Volkswagen who helps Angela Merkel to continue to be chancellor of Germany. And she was just announcing to try to get chancellor for another four years. And so that was the reason why we thought we should, like, make a point about her situation and what she can be able to do to Germany for another four years.

MARTIN: When you think about the Brexit vote in the U.K. and the refugee crisis that in particular has really affected Germany, it is fair to say it's an unsettling time in Europe. That could be an understatement.


MARTIN: What are you hoping Charlie Hebdo's role will be in this moment?

MARTIN: I think Charlie Hebdo always, you know, put the finger there where it hurts, you know, politicians, religion, all that stuff. So the aim is more than to make people aware of these kind of crazy situations in the world. And this is one thing I really learned here with working with the people who have really a lot of respect to other people, you know? Sometimes shocking pictures, they would say, yeah, these people are just, you know, like bad minds and they want to hurt other people. I don't think so. I think the world is, you know, a crazy place where bad things are happening, and refugee crisis, as you said, there was something very - yeah, very important, so we think it's a good time to do this adventure.

MARTIN: Minka Schneider, a pseudonym, is editor of the German edition of Charlie Hebdo. Thanks so much for talking with us.

SCHNEIDER: Thanks. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Rachel Martin is a host of Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
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