German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, November 30, 2016. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke(reuters_tickers)
BERLIN (Reuters) - The first German edition of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo hit the news stands on Thursday, with a front page lampooning Chancellor Angela Merkel, almost two years after Islamist militants attacked its top editorial staff in Paris.
The magazine also picked on another symbol of post-war German might - Europe's biggest carmaker Volkswagen, still struggling to recover from its diesel emissions scandal.
"VW backs Merkel," reads the headline, with a picture showing a VW mechanic fixing 62-year old Merkel on a hydraulic lift, saying: "A new exhaust pipe and you'll run for another four years."
Merkel announced last month she would stand for a fourth term in elections next year.
Launch posters showed Merkel sitting on the toilet reading the magazine, with the slogan: "Charlie Hebdo. It's liberating."
The magazine, known in France for ridiculing political and religious leaders, became a symbol for the freedom of expression after two militants broke into an editorial meeting at its Paris office in Jan. 2015 and killed 12 people.
The Islamists accused the magazine of blasphemy for printing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.
Some German customers said they were buying the magazine as a gesture of solidarity.
"For me, this is more a feeling that I support this and I want it to continue now that it has just started," said Tim Wuennemann.
An initial run of 200,000 will be printed in Germany - twice the circulation of the country's current best-known satirical magazine, Titanic. Some of its contents will be original, some translated from the French.
The boundaries of satire were tested this year when Turkey's Tayyip Erdogan took legal action against German comedian Jan Boehmermann for broadcasting a satirical poem suggesting the president engaged in bestiality and watched child pornography.
(Reporting by Reuters Television; Writing by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Andrew Heavens)