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French teacher beheaded after sharing controversial cartoons

Samuel Paty, a French teacher was beheaded last Friday near Paris after sharing caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad with his class. The suspect, 18-year-old Chechen man, was shot dead by police.

The images were part of a lesson on freedom of speech held in October. The controversial cartoons were originally published by the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in 2012. And were cited as the motivation behind the killing of 12 people by Islamist extremists at the magazine's offices.

Responding to the attack the rector of the Lyon mosque, Kamel Kabtane, said the slain teacher "did his job" and was "respectful" in teaching his pupils about freedom of expression.

In a tweet, Kabtane said: "A teacher was killed by an ignoramus who knew nothing of his religion. Muslims must be united to face this ignorance and violence."

Thousands of people rallied across France honour Paty and defend freedom of speech. Protesters held signs declaring “I am a teacher” and “I am Samuel.”

French authorities have responded to the attack by launching a harsh crackdown with security services investigating 51 associations, including religious schools and mosques. They have open more than 80 investigations.

Read more from NPR, the BBC and France 24

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