Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, Prime Minister Jean Castex and other politicians were present at the protests.
A teacher with special needs working in the Paris area told CNN she attended the demonstration because she was shocked by the killing.
“We must all live together and learn to live together, and we must all respect everyone̵
Killer took the credit, prosecutors say
Abdoullakh Abouyezidovitch, an 18-year-old Chechen refugee, took credit for Friday’s beheading of Samuel Paty, 47, who taught history and geography at the Collège du Bois d’Aulne. Police killed the teenager Friday afternoon in Éragny, the same Paris suburb where Patys’ body was found.
Paty had taught a class on freedom of speech, using caricatures of the Prophet taken from Charlie Hebdo, which created controversy in the weeks before his death, authorities said.
Abouyezidovitch approached students outside the school located in the Paris suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine and asked them to point out Paty before attacking the teacher on his way home, Ricard said.
Abouyezidovitch, who was not known to intelligence services, lived in Évreux for more than an hour’s drive from the attack site, the prosecutor said. It was unclear whether Abouyezidovitch had attended the Collège du Bois d’Aulne.
Paty had arranged a lesson around the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, Ricard said. Nordine Chaouadi, a parent of one of the school’s students, told Agence France-Presse that Paty took measures to avoid offending the Muslim youth in his class.
“It was just to preserve them. It was out of pure kindness because he had to show a caricature of the Prophet of Islam and simply said to the Muslim children, ‘Go out, I do not want it to hurt your feelings. “That’s what my son told me,” he said.
Several people taken into custody
After a Danish newspaper controversially published the caricatures in 2005, Charlie Hebdo published them the following year.
On October 7, a father of one of Paty’s students called for Paty’s dismissal on Facebook. He also filed a complaint and posted a YouTube video that was critical of the teacher. Paty responded with an insult, Ricard said.
Police have taken 11 people into custody for questioning. Included is the father who complained about Paty and her husband’s sister-in-law, who is suspected of having “joined the Islamic State in 2014 in Syria and as such is the subject of a search warrant from an anti-terrorism investigation judge,” the prosecutor said.
Abouyezidovitch’s parents, grandfather and brother were also taken for questioning, a French legal source said.
French Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said Paty was assassinated “to teach in a class that had to do with one of the pillars of democracy – freedom of speech.”
“Samuel Paty embodied our Republic’s most noble asset: its schools. He was mistakenly assassinated by enemies of freedom. We want to be united, firm and determined,” Blanquer wrote in a tweet.
Macron said Paty was “killed because he taught the students freedom of speech, the freedom to believe and not to believe.”
CNN’s Pierre Bairin, Eva Tapiero, Martin Goillandeau and Ivana Kottasovà contributed to this report.