Readers queue from early hours for 1,000 UK editions of Charlie Hebdo magazine

Queues were forming outside newsagents and bookshops today as readers in the UK tried to get hold of copies of the first Charlie Hebdo magazine since the deadly shootings in Paris. (Picture: magazine being sold in Paris, Reuters)

Demand is high for the magazine's new issue, which carries a front cover cartoon of a crying Prophet Muhammad, in the wake of last week's attack that saw gunmen kill 12 people at its offices.

More than 1,000 copies are expected to be available in the UK, with newsagents bracing themselves for a rush.

About 100 people were queuing outside The French Bookshop, in South Kensington, London, which is limiting sales of Charlie Hebdo to one copy per customer.

Dozens of readers were left disappointed, though, after it sold out of copies at 9.20am, just over an hour after they went on sale.

The shop's owner Robert Zaigue insisted he was not worried about being targeted by Islamic extremists after selling the magazine.

He said: "If they want to blow us up, then blow us up. Fortunately we live in the free world and we should appreciate that. Those people don't scare me. We're not going to let them scare us."

Zaigue said he was unsure how many copies were sold but it was "hundreds" and more copies of the magazine would be available next week.

He added: "The response from English people has been incredible."

Some people started waiting outside the shop shortly after midnight, including Moritz Riewoldt, from Germany, who arrived at 12.20am.

The 22-year-old, who lives in Putney, London, said: "It's important to be here to support the freedom of the press. I know what it can mean to a country.

"If you're scared of saying what you think, I know where this can lead. It's part of history and you can probably tell your grandchildren that it's a stick-up to the terrorists to say you're not going to get us down this easily, and make a stand."

A reported 5m copies of the magazine are being printed, its largest-ever run, with translations into English, Spanish and Arabic, and versions available in the UK, Italy and Turkey.

The first batch of about 500,000 copies was quickly sold out and several have appeared on online auction site eBay attracting four-figure bids, well in excess of the modest three-euro (£2.30) cover price.

Yesterday, Press Gazette revealed that fake copies of the magazine were being sold at a North London newsagent for £9.

Wholesalers Smiths News, Comag and Menzies Distribution said they would be distributing it.

Interest in the new issue of Charlie Hebdo prompted more than 50 British Muslim leaders to appeal for calm from the Islamic community in response to the cartoon.

In an open letter, the imams and religious leaders wrote: "With dignified nobility we must be restrained, as the Koran says 'And when the ignorant speak to them, they say words of peace'.

"Most Muslims will inevitably be hurt, offended and upset by the republication of the cartoons. But our reaction must be a reflection of the teachings of the gentle and merciful character of the prophet (peace be upon him).

"Enduring patience, tolerance, gentleness and mercy, as was the character of our beloved prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is the best and immediate way to respond."

Arnaud Isnard, 29, who is originally from Marseille but now lives in Cambridge, began queuing at 5am. He said: "In France I used to read Charlie Hebdo and it's a publication I really like. After what happened in Paris I really wanted to have a read and see how they went through this terrible event.

"What happened in France was enough to show that if you want to kill people it's not going to have the right impact. It's only going to antagonise people and make people feel more united."

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