Samuel Paty, 47, was decapitated on Friday evening after he is said to have shown a class, at College du Bois d’Aulne in Conflans-Saint-Honorine near Paris, controversial caricatures of the Prophet from satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. An 18-year-old man – a refugee from the Russian republic of Chechnya – who attacked the history and geography teacher, was shot dead by police after firing an airgun at them. Anti-terrorism officials said the man waited outside the school and asked pupils which teacher had shown the Prophet to them, before repeatedly stabbing Mr Paty.
He then beheaded the teacher while shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’, or ‘God is Great’, according to witnesses. Vigils have been held across France today (Picture: Getty Images) History and Geography teacher Samuel Paty was fatally attacked close to the school on Friday (Picture: Rex) He then posted photographs of the victim to a Twitter account, under the name Abdoulakh A, saying: ‘I have executed one of the dogs from hell who dared to put Muhammad down’. On Sunday, thousands took to the streets in tribute to Mr Paty in Paris, Lyon, Toulouse, Strasbourg, Nantes, Marseille, Lille, Bordeaux and other major cities – many of which are under a government-imposed 9pm curfew. French Prime Minister Jean Castex stood with citizens, associations and unions demonstrating in the capital’s Place de la Republique, in support of freedom of speech and in memory of the teacher. Some held placards reading ‘I am Samuel’ that echoed the ‘I am Charlie’ rallying cry, after the 2015 attack on Charlie Hebdo. A moment’s silence was held across the square, broken by applause and a rendition of La Marseillaise, the French national anthem. Thousands of people gathered at Republique square in Paris (Picture: Getty Images) Protestors were dispersed ahead of the 9pm curfew in many major French cities (Picture: Getty Images) Many demonstrators wore face masks as they gathered waving the French flag (Picture: Getty Images) Many parents also left flowers at the school’s gates and said their children were devastated and ‘terrorised by the violence of such an act’ on their teacher. Police have been investigating whether the killer acted alone or with accomplices and have arrested 11 people in relation to the attack, including at least four of his relatives and a minor. The parents of two of Mr Paty’s students were also held in custody overnight, including a father who had lodged a formal complaint about the teacher’s actions and called for protests. Anti-terrorism minister Jean-Francois Ricard said a murder investigation with a suspected terrorist motive has been launched. He said that although the killer was not known to anti-terrorism police, his half-sister had joined the Islamic State group in Syria in 2014. Mr Ricard said he did not know her name or where she is currently located. Muslim leaders have condemned the horrific killing, which has been perceived by many as an attack on French statehood and its values of secularism, freedom of expression and religion. A protestor holds a copy of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo (Picture: Getty Images) Many parents have said their children are devastated (Picture: Getty Images) The imam of a Bordeaux mosque told France Inter radio: ‘Every day that passes without incident we give thanks. We are between hammer and anvil. ‘It attacks the Republic, society, peace and the very essence of religion, which is about togetherness.’ A group of imams in the Lyon region held 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 an uncertain faith committed the irreparable’. US President Donald Trump was one of many global leaders to condemn the attack and referred to the killing on Saturday night during a political rally in Janesville, Wisconsin. He told the crowd: ‘On behalf of the United States, I’d like to extend my really sincere condolences to a friend of mine, President (Emmanuel) Macron of France, where they just yesterday had a vicious, vicious Islamic terrorist attack.’ Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more stories like this, check our news page.