Samuel Paty was beheaded Friday in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine by an 18-year-old Chechen refugee, born in Moscow, shot dead by the police.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex stood alongside citizens, associations and unions demonstrating on Sunday in Place de la République in Paris to support freedom of expression and in memory of the murdered professor of 47 years.
Some held signs reading “I am Samuel” which echoed the rallying cry “I am Charlie” after the 2015 attack on satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which published caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. A moment of silence was observed in the square, interrupted by applause and a catchy interpretation of La Marseillaise, the French national anthem.
Protesters also gathered in major cities like Lyon, Toulouse, Strasbourg, Nantes, Marseille, Lille and Bordeaux.
The French authorities, meanwhile, claim to have arrested an eleventh person after the murder.
Counterterrorism prosecutor Jean-François Ricard said an investigation into suspected terrorist murder had been opened. At least four of those detained are family members of the attacker, who had obtained a 10-year residence in France as a refugee in March, was armed with a knife and an airsoft gun, which fires plastic pellets.
Her half-sister joined the Islamic State group in Syria in 2014, Ricard said. He didn’t give her her name and no one knew where she was now.
The prosecutor said a text claiming responsibility and a photo of the victim were found on the suspect’s phone. He also confirmed that a Twitter account under the name of Abdoulakh A belonged to the suspect. He posted a photo of the decapitated head minutes after the attack with the message “I executed one of the hellhounds who dared to shoot Muhammad down. ”
The beheading shocked moderate French Muslims and a group of imams from the Lyon region are holding a special meeting on Sunday to discuss what the group called “the appalling assassination of our compatriot by a terrorist who in the name of a faith uncertain has committed the irreparable. ”
The leader of the world’s largest group of Muslim-majority countries also condemned the murder. In a statement Sunday from the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the office of Secretary-General Yousef al-Othaimeen reiterated the OIC’s well-known position to reject all forms of extremism, radicalization and terrorism for any reason or motive. ”
The attack drew a strong international rebuke. US President Donald Trump opened up about the murder on Saturday night during a political rally in Janesville, Wisconsin.
“On behalf of the United States, I would like to offer my sincere condolences to a friend of mine, President (Emmanuel) Macron of France, where they had a vicious and vicious Islamic terrorist attack yesterday – beheading of an innocent teacher by of Paris, ”he said. “France is going through a difficult period and Macron is a great guy. ”
Aya Batrawy in Dubai, United Arab Emirates contributed to this report.