French police arrest nine after teacher beheaded in street

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People gather during a demonstration on Sunday, 18 October, 2020 in Paris.

France's anti-terror prosecutor says a history teacher beheaded in a Paris suburb had been the target of online threats for showing pupils cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed in class.

Macron added that the teacher had been "killed because he was teaching students freedom of speech, the freedom to believe and not believe". France has offered asylum to many Chechens following a war between Russian forces and Islamist separatists in Chechnya in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Citing French media, the BBC reports that the teacher began receiving death threats following a lesson on freedom of expression in which the caricatures were said to be shown.

Ricard said that the suspect had approached students outside of the school and asked them to point out the history teacher.

French officials plan to expel 231 radicalized foreign nationals in a sweeping crackdown after the brutal slaying of a teacher Friday. That evening, he put out another Facebook video, giving the name of the teacher and identifying the school.

Witnesses said the suspect was spotted at the school on Friday asking pupils where he could find Paty. A man off-camera interviewed the man's daughter.

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President Emmanuel Macron has called the killing an "Islamist terrorist attack". Ricard said the Twitter account belonged to the alleged assailant.

Police have detained 11 people in connection with the killing. He said the assassin sought to "attack the Republic and its values".

Mr Paty was brutally murdered on his way home from the school where he taught in a suburb northwest of Paris on Friday afternoon. The attacker had been armed with a knife and an airsoft gun, which fires plastic pellets.

And last month, charges were brought against a 25-year old Pakistani man after he wounded two people with a meat cleaver to avenge the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed by Charlie Hebdo, which purportedly prompted the 2015 killings.

Police have detained nine people since the attack, including the suspect's parents, grandfather and teenage brother, according to the AP.

Police also arrested a friend of the schoolgirl's father who had gone with him to see the principal to demand Paty's dismissal.

The friend, a known militant, was already on the radar of French intelligence services.

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The French anti-terrorism prosecutor opened an investigation for murder with a suspected terrorist motive.

EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen expressed her condolences, saying her thoughts were with teachers in France and across Europe.

The previous day, speaking near the scene where the teacher was decapitated, a visibly moved Mr Macron said "the entire nation" stands ready to defend teachers and that "obscurantism will not win".

A national tribute is to be held for Paty on Wednesday.

On Saturday, hundreds of pupils, teachers and parents went to Paty's school to lay white roses as a tribute to the dead teacher. This was reminiscent of the hashtag Je Suis Charlie launched after journalists from the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo were murdered in January 2015 for publishing cartoons lampooning the Prophet Muhammad.

"We said to the teacher it was not good to show photos like this and that it would cause a huge problem", Lusiela said.

According to parents and teachers, Paty told Muslim children they could leave before he showed the cartoon, telling them he did not want their feelings hurt.

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Ricard also said the headmaster of the school had received several threatening phone calls.

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