Paris (CNN)Demonstrators took to the streets of French locales Sunday lauding free speech and decrying violence against educators after the slaying of a teacher who used caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad during a lesson.
Samuel Paty beheading: Teacher's slaying spurs protests across France
Thousands gathered in and around Paris' Place de la République, some holding signs showing the front page of Charlie Hebdo -- a satirical magazine targeted by extremists after showing cartoons of the prophet -- while others lofted placards, saying, "No to Islamisation" and "Nazislamisation is cutting our throats."
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, Prime Minister Jean Castex and other politicians were on hand at the protests.
A special needs teacher who works in the Paris area told CNN she joined the demonstration because she was shocked by the killing.
"We all should live together and learn to live together, and everybody has to respect everybody's faith," she said.
Abdoullakh Abouyezidovitch, an 18-year-old Chechen refugee, took credit for Friday's beheading of Samuel Paty, 47, who taught history and geography at Collège du Bois d'Aulne. Police killed the teen Friday afternoon in Éragny, the same Paris suburb where Paty's body was found.
Paty had taught a class on freedom of expression, during which he used caricatures of the prophet taken from Charlie Hebdo, sparking controversy in the weeks preceding his death, authorities said.
Before police gunned him down Friday, Abouyezidovitch said on Twitter that he had executed one of French President Emmanuel Macron's "dogs of hell" who had belittled the revered prophet, anti-terrorist prosecutor Jean-François Ricard said.
Abouyezidovitch approached students outside the school, located in the Parisian suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, asking 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, more than an hour's drive from the scene of the attack, the prosecutor said. It was unclear if Abouyezidovitch had attended Collège du Bois d'Aulne.
Paty had organized a lesson around the Charlie Hebdo caricatures, Ricard said. Nordine Chaouadi, a parent of one of the pupils at the school, told Agence France-Presse that Paty took measures to avoid offending the Muslim youngsters 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 I