France to hold defiant rallies after beheading of teacher

Several people brought flowers to the Bois d'Aulne college after the attack, near Paris

Several people brought flowers to the Bois d'Aulne college after the attack, near Paris

Demonstrations have been called across France on Sunday to support freedom of speech and to pay tribute to a French history teacher who was beheaded at a school near Paris after discussing caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad.

Samuel Paty was decapitated on Friday by an 18-year-old Moscow-born Chechen refugee who was shot dead by police.

The teacher had been the target of online threats for showing the cartoons in class, with the father of one schoolgirl launching an online call for "mobilization" against him, France's anti-terror prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard said.

Witnesses said the young man, named as Abdullakh A, was spotted at the school on Friday afternoon asking pupils where he could find Paty.

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Charlie Hebdo editors urge demo

The editors of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo called for a demonstration in Paris on Sunday afternoon together with the organization SOS Racisme and teachers' unions.

People are also expected to take to the streets of numerous other cities, like Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse and Bordeaux.

"It is absolutely important to show our mobilization and our solidarity, our national cohesion," Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer told France 2 television, calling on "everyone (to) support the teachers".

The gatherings come as French authorities say they have detained an 11th person following the atrocity, including four family members of the attacker, who had been granted a 10-year residency in France as a refugee in March.

The Paris prosecutor said a text claiming responsibility and a photograph of the victim were found on the suspect's phone.

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He also confirmed that a Twitter account belonging to the suspect 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."

Roses laid at teacher's school

Hundreds of pupils, teachers and parents flooded to Paty's school to lay white roses on Saturday.

Many of them used the slogan "Je suis prof" (I am a teacher), echoing "Je suis Charlie" that became the rallying cry of solidarity marches in 2015 following the deadly attack on the offices of the satirical magazine.

A subsequent series of attacks in France, many claimed by the "Islamic State" (IS) armed group, cost more than 230 lives in 2015 and 2016.

Suspects accused of links to the Charlie Hebdo attacks are currently before the courts in a trial that is expected to run until mid-November.

Charlie Hebdo's former office was the site of a cleaver attack just a few weeks ago after it republished some of the cartoons of Mohammed ahead of the ongoing trial.

mm/rc (AFP, AP, dpa)