PARIS – Protesters in France took part in rallies in support of freedom of speech and in honor of a history teacher who was beheaded near Paris after discussing cartoons of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad with his class.
Samuel Patti was beheaded on Friday by an 18-year-old Moscow-born Chechen refugee who was shot dead by police.
Political leaders, associations and unions demonstrated on Sunday in Place de la République in Paris, holding placards reading “I am Samuel”, which echoed in the call “I am Charlie” after the 2015 attack on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which published caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.
Demonstrators also gathered in major cities, including Lyon, Toulouse, Strasbourg, Nantes, Marseille, Lille and Bordeaux.
Meanwhile, French authorities say they have detained the 11th man after the murder.
Counter-terrorism prosecutor Jean-François Ricard said an investigation had been opened into the murder on suspicion of a terrorist motive. At least four of the detainees are members of the family of the attacker, who received a 10-year stay in France as a refugee in March, armed with a knife and an air pistol, who fired plastic pellets.
His half-sister joined the Islamic State group in Syria in 2014, Ricard said. He did not give her name and it was not clear where she was at the moment.
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 Abdoulakh A belonged to the suspect. He posted a photo of the decapitated head minutes after the attack, along with the message “I executed one of the dogs from hell who dared to take down Muhammad.”
The beheading upset moderate French Muslims. A group of imams in the Lyon region are holding a special meeting Sunday to discuss what the group called “the horrific killing of our compatriot by a terrorist who, in the name of insecure faith, did the irreparable.”
The attack provoked global condemnation. US President Donald Trump addressed the assassination on Saturday night at a political rally in Janesville, Wisconsin.
“On behalf of the United States, I would like to express my sincere condolences to my friend, President (Emmanuel) Macron of France, where they had a brutal, brutal Islamic terrorist attack yesterday – the beheading of an innocent teacher near Paris,” he said. he’s having a hard time, and Macron is a great person. “