Two Russian MMA fighters, Zelim Imadaev and Albert Duraev, have shown support for the decapitation of a French teacher by a Chechen refugee this weekend, reports said.
Police shot dead 18-year-old suspect Abdullakh Anzorov in a Paris suburb Friday after he posted a photo of 47-year-old history teacher Samuel Paty’s severed head on his now-suspended Twitter account. Paty had received threats for showing his students cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed as part of a class discussion on freedom of expression.
According to Russian sports reporter Alexander Lyutikov’s Instagram post Sunday, Imadaev called Anzorov a “hero” and Duraev joked that “freedom of speech has lost its beginning in France.”
Both Imadaev and Anzorov were born in Russia's majority Muslim republic of Chechnya. Depictions of the Prophet Mohammed are prohibited in the Muslim faith.
“These statements were made in [Instagram] stories and are meant to disappear soon, so I decided to save them here,” Lyutikov wrote.
Neither Instagram story was visible as of Monday, and Lyutikov said the social media company had blocked his post for violating its community guidelines on violence.
Russian imageboards have circulated screenshots of Imadaev and Anzorov’s statements on the Telegram messaging app.
Imadaev, 25, has logged three losses as a UFC fighter.
Duraev, 31, is a former welterweight and middleweight champion of the Chechnya-based Absolute Championship Akhmat (ACA) organization who was awaiting entry into the UFC this year.
UFC’s website restricted access to Imadaev’s profile while other Chechen fighters’ profiles are still publicly available.