Demonstrators in France on Sunday gathered in support of freedom of speech and in tribute to a history teacher who was beheaded outside his school after discussing caricatures of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad with his class. Samuel Paty was slain Friday, police said, by an 18-year-old, Moscow-born Chechen refugee who was shot dead by officers in a Paris suburb. Political leaders, associations, and unions demonstrated Sunday on the Place de la Republique in Paris holding placards reading, "I am Samuel," that echoed the "I am Charlie" rallying cry after the 2015 attack on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which had published caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. Demonstrators also gathered Sunday in major cities, the AP reports, including Lyon, Toulouse, Strasbourg, Nantes, Marseille, Lille, and Bordeaux.
Authorities said they have detained 11 people in the case. At least four of them are family members of the suspect, who was granted 10-year residency in France as a refugee in March. He was armed with a knife and an airsoft gun, officials said, which fires plastic pellets. Anti-terrorism prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard said a text claiming responsibility and a photograph of the victim were found on the suspect's phone. He confirmed that a Twitter account belonged to the suspect that posted a photo of the decapitated head minutes after the attack, along with the message, "I have executed one of the dogs from hell who dared to put Muhammad down." The beheading has upset moderate French Muslims. A group of imams in the Lyon region are meeting Sunday to discuss what it called "the appalling assassination of our compatriot by a terrorist who in the name of an uncertain faith committed the irreparable." (Cartoonist once said he wouldn't draw Mohammed again.)