A school teacher from Batley Grammar School in West Yorkshire, England, allegedly showed cartoons of Mohammed to his class, resulting in a protest from Muslims outside the school that was spurred on through social media chatter.
The protest has gathered national attention as thoughts went to last year’s incident in France where a teacher, Samuel Paty, was beheaded after Muslim parents thought a teacher had showed cartoons of Mohammed to his class. (It was later revealed that a student had made up the incident.)
Fears were further heightened when social media users and activists protesting against the West Yorkshire school named the teacher involved on social media – something that had been described as a “thinly-veiled threat” and reported to West Yorkshire Police.
Several disgruntled and angered parents gathered at the school premises, expressing their contempt towards “undermining” the religion and showing such imagery to children, that too during a “religious studies lesson.”
Although cops were present during the time of the protest, it was a peaceful one. That said, cops apparently threatened the protestors with COVID fines for gathering outside the school in big numbers.
The school shocked free expression supporters when it issued a formal, public apology and stated that the teacher was suspended from his position and an investigation was soon going to be launched.
“The school unequivocally apologizes for using a totally inappropriate resource in a recent religious studies lesson. The member of staff has also given their most sincere apologies.
“The school is working with the governing board and community leaders to help resolve the situation,” the school said.
Imam Mohammed Amin Pandor, during the protest, made a statement about the incident outside the school saying what happened was “totally unacceptable.”
“The teacher has been suspended. They can’t just sack him, they need to do their due process. We’ve asked for an investigation, an investigation to be independent,” said Imam.
He also said that the teacher’s “teaching days are over” and that they’re going to be working with the school to ensure that such incidents don’t take place.
It was also revealed that the Imam spoke to the principal, Gary Kibble, about the issue and also regarding a statement the school was yet to release.
Kibble also emailed parents, apologizing on behalf of the religious studies teacher’s actions.
“Upon investigation, it was clear that the resource used in the lesson was completely inappropriate and had the capacity to cause great offense to members of our school community for which we would like to offer a sincere and full apology,” wrote Kibble.
The Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, on Thursday night, condemned the “threats and intimidation” that the teacher has faced.
Following hearing that the teacher is now in hiding and under police protection, Williamson said the protests outside a West Yorkshire school on Thursday were “completely unacceptable,” saying that teachers are allowed to present students with “challenging or controversial” issues.
Facing accusations of blasphemy, Batley Grammar School was on Friday closed as a result of the incident.
Britain has no blasphemy laws.