PARIS — Newsstands across Paris quickly sold out of the new edition of Charlie Hebdo as many people rose before dawn to grab the paper, which immediately became a commemorative piece and a worldwide symbol of liberté.
The new Charlie Hebdo — the first issue since last week's terrorist attack on the magazine's offices, which killed 12 — features a cartoon of a crying Prophet Muhammad on the cover holding a "Je suis Charlie" sign. Above his head appear the words "Tout est pardonné" ("all is forgiven").
At a news kiosk across from Paris' city hall early on Wednesday morning, there was already a line before sunrise at 7:15 a.m. – 45 minutes before the newsstand was supposed to open.
The stand opened at about 7:50 a.m., and by around 7:55 a.m., there were as many as 40 people in line. By 8:15 a.m., the newsstand had sold out.
The newsstand's owner automatically handed people copies of Charlie Hebdo when they got to the front of the line, knowing they weren't looking to buy any other newspaper. He wouldn't sell more than one copy to each customer — "I don't have enough," he explained.
At Place de la République, at least 50 people were waiting in line for their copy at a kiosk on the south side of the square around 9 a.m. Several news cameras filmed them waiting. Across the street, another newsstand was taking reservations for Thursday.
All of the other kiosks on the square were sold out. Many newsstands around the city have put up signs telling people "Il n'y a plus de Charlie" ("There's no more Charlie").
Many people BuzzFeed News spoke with had been to four, five, or even six newsstands on their quest to get the new Charlie Hebdo.
"I'd like to say that i'm doing this for my daughter, Victoria," said Cédric Canton, who had been looking for a copy since 6:30 a.m. and was first in line in front of the newsstand on Boulevard Poissonnière. Choking up, he said, "She's 2 years old — I want her to grow up in a free country." The newsstand didn't have any copies though, so Canton left empty-handed.
Bruno Bonomi, Monira Bonomi, and Fernando Hashimoto, a family from Brazil who arrived in Paris on Monday, were also standing in line before sunrise. They wanted to buy a copy because they believed in freedom of speech, they said.
A lot of people were in town from abroad and were trying to buy copies for their families: Vittoria, from Italy, travelled to Paris for the occasion. She was very distraught when she realized most of the newsstands were sold out, saying she was only there until Thursday and had to find a copy for her family.
Charlie Hebdo is selling so quickly that the print run, originally set for 3 million, is being raised to 5 million to meet demand.
Charlie Hebdo's distributor, Messageries lyonnaises de presse told BuzzFeed News that the 700,000 copies sent out Wednesday morning were "most certainly" sold out, and 500,000 more copies will be distributed Thursday.
MLP also confirmed that this edition of Charlie Hebdo would be sold for 56 days, through March. The remainder of the 5 million print run will be distributed during that time, MLP said.
Some of Charlie Hebdo's surviving staff gave a press conference on Tuesday in which they explained the new cover.
"We needed a front page that would make us laugh," said Renald "Luz" Luzier, who drew this week's cover. "I had Muhammad, he was holding a sign, 'Je suis Charlie,' and he was crying. And I wrote 'all is forgiven' above. And I cried. I drew and I cried and we had our fucking homepage. I'm sorry, we drew him again."
About 700,000 copies of Charlie Hebdo were distributed and sold on Wednesday. An earlier version of this post said about 3 million copies were distributed and sold.