Since the Charlie Hebdo attacks, the demand for Voltaire's "Treatise on Tolerance" has increased in France.
Since the Charlie Hebdo attacks, the demand for Voltaire's "Treatise on Tolerance" has increased in France.Creative Commons

Following the Paris terrorist attacks, including the one on satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo's office, there seems to have been a sudden surge in the popularity of philosopher Voltaire's "Treatise on Tolerance."

Several reports from France state that there is an increase in the sale of Voltaire's- "Treatise on Tolerance".

"Yes, something is definitely going on. We have already sold 120,000 copies and we have decided to print a new edition," said a spokesperson for French publisher Gallimard, France 24 reports.

The book is currently featured on the Amazon bestseller list, and ranked number 17 on, as on Wednesday.

Voltaire was born in Paris in 1694 and has been acclaimed as well as censured as a creative writer and pamphleteer.

Through his harsh critiques of the Catholic Church, he defended freedom of religion and freedom of expression.

Voltaire wrote "Treatise on Tolerance" after being inspired by the trial of Jean Calas, a Protestant who was executed after being accused of murdering his own son to prevent his conversion to Catholicism, a charge that Calas had denied.

In the book, he slammed the French Catholic authorities for their intolerance towards religious minorities, and argued that personal beliefs of one group or another should not stand above the law of the land.

Voltaire is better known for his satirical work "Candide", and one of his most famous quotes that has been posted by several people post the terrorist attacks is: "I disapprove of what you say but I'll defend to the death your right to say it." The quote was presented to the world by Evelyn Beatrice Hall, in her biography on Voltaire.

Since the Charlie Hebdo attacks, hundreds have been quoting the maxim to condemn the attack, which is now being seen as an attack on freedom of expression.

The Charlie Hebdo attackers killed 12 people, including prominent cartoonists and policemen, for publishing drawings depicting the Prophet Mohammad. The killers boasted that they had "avenged the prophet" as they fled the crime scene.

Following the attacks, scores of people across the world drew comparison between Voltaire and Charlie Hebdo.

La Société Voltaire, a group that takes care of the philosopher's work and legacy, said that in targeting the satirical magazine, attackers "also wanted to murder Voltaire".

"Today, Voltaire would be Charlie," the group said in a statement on its website, this week. "Today, more than ever, Voltaire is a rallying symbol for all those who will not accept murderous religion... that a God serves to justify massacres."

Similarly, Jean-Marie Rouart - a writer and member of the prestigious Académie Française - also compared the philosopher to the magazine. "It's as if they wanted to kill Voltaire, a champion of the same struggle", he wrote in the glossy Paris Match, France24 reports.

Also read