France’s Charlie Hebdo launches ‘irreverent’ youth essay contest

Agence France-Presse

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'We want... to help youths to let go of their inhibitions at an age when everything is still possible'

ESSAY CONTEST. A commuter picks up a copy of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo at a newsstand in Paris, February 25, 2015. File photo by Ian Langsdon/EPA

PARIS – Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical weekly attacked by jihadists in January 2015, announced an annual essay contest on Monday for 12-to-22-year-olds.

“We want madness, originality, irreverence,” said Russian-born novelist Iegor Gran, a contributor to Charlie Hebdo who is spearheading the contest.

“We can’t let the dreary have the monopoly over French literature,” he told French radio. 

Charlie Hebdo editor Laurent Sourisseau told Monday’s Le Parisien daily that after the magazine was attacked on January 7, 2015, leaving 12 dead, “we received a lot of drawings from young people, many of them spontaneous, with a very free spirit.”

He said the Charlie Hebdo Literary Prize would be a way “to continue the dialogue between this generation and Charlie, a newspaper that many people discovered at the time of the attacks.

“Charlie is a paper that dares. We want… to help youths to let go of their inhibitions at an age when everything is still possible,” he added.

The contest, whose inaugural theme is “What if the baccalaureate was replaced by…” is open to all French speakers aged 12 to 22 in any country.

The baccalaureate is the exam taken at the end of secondary school.

Charlie Hebdo journalists and cartoonists will judge the submissions, which are to be no more than two pages, with prizes of 1,000 euros ($1,100) for each of 3 winners.

Charlie Hebdo had been a target for jihadists since publishing Prophet Mohammed cartoons in 2006 and its offices were firebombed in 2011. –

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