Rallies in dozens of cities across France are expected on Sunday in a show of solidarity and defiance after the decapitation of a teacher outside his school for showing pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.
The beheading of history teacher Samuel Paty in a Paris suburb on Friday has sparked outrage in France and memories of a wave of Islamist violence in 2015 sparked by caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed published by the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
“It is absolutely important to show our mobilisation and our solidarity, our national cohesion,” education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer told France 2, calling on “everyone (to) support the teachers”.
One rally is set to take place at the Place de la Republique in Paris, a traditional site of protest where around 1.5 million people demonstrated in 2015 following a deadly attack on Charle Hebdo’s office by Islamist gunmen.
Rallies are also expected in Lyon, Toulouse, Strasbourg, Nantes, Marseille, Lille and Bordeaux.
Mr Paty had been the target of online threats for showing the cartoons, with the father of one schoolgirl launching an online call for “mobilisation” against him, France’s anti-terror prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard said.
The 18-year old suspect, named as Abdullakh A, was shot dead by police shortly after the attack.
The Russian embassy in Paris on Saturday said the suspect’s family had arrived in France from Chechnya when he was six and requested asylum.
The schoolgirl’s father and a known Islamist militant are among 10 people arrested.
Mr Ricard said the school received threats after the class in early October, which featured the controversial caricatures – one of the prophet naked – with the girl’s father accusing Mr Paty of disseminating “pornography”.
The aggrieved father named Mr Paty and gave the school’s address in a social media post just days before the beheading, which President Emmanuel Macron has labelled an Islamist terror attack.