Teacher in England suspended over Muhammed cartoon

Teacher hiding in fear after being suspended for showing a picture of the Prophet Muhammed to students.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

A grammar school in England is at the center of a storm of controversy after a teacher was suspended for showing students a caricature of the Prophet Muhammed, the BBC reported Thursday.

The religious studies teacher at the Batley Grammar School was suspended last week after reportedly showing students an “offensive” cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad taken from the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. In a terror attack on the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo in 2015, Islamic terrorists murdered 13 people claiming the cartoon was blasphemy and an offense to Muslims.

The teacher was suspended for showing the cartoon and was “in hiding, fearing for their life” after his name was circulated on social media following the suspension, the report said.

The suspension sparked days of mass protests outside the school gates.

An online petition demanding the teacher be reinstated has so far received 70,000 signatures. It was posted anonymously by a person claiming to be a student at the school.

“The RS Teacher was trying to educate students about racism and blasphemy. He warned the students before showing the images and he had the intent to educate them,” the petition preamble stated. “He does not deserve such large repercussions.”

“He is not racist and did not support the Islamophobic cartoons in any manner. This has got out of hand and due to this, students have missed out on lessons because of ‘peaceful’ protestors,” the petitioner wrote.

Protests were held outside the school grounds by groups both for and against the suspension, forcing the school headmaster to issue an apology to try and calm the situation.

“The school unequivocally apologizes for using a totally inappropriate image in a recent religious studies lesson,” Batley headteacher Gary Kibble said in a statement, adding “it should not have been used.”

“The member of the staff has also relayed their most sincere apologies,” Kibble said. “We have immediately withdrawn teaching on this part of the course, and we’re reviewing how we go forward with the support of all our communities represented in our school.”

Local resident Abdul Ravat, whose daughter attended the school, told the BBC demographics have changed and the majority of the school is of a South Asian origin and of Muslim faith, “so you’ve got to factor that into the equation,” he said.

His daughter who is now in college said her “teacher did have a different take on lessons, but he was still a good teacher.”

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Batley is located some 260 kilometers (160 miles) north of London and the school and was founded in 1612. The trust that runs five schools in Batley said it would hold an inquiry into the incident before taking any actions.

“We believe the right way forward is for an independent investigation to review the context in which the materials [which caused offense] were used, and to make recommendations in relation to the Religious Studies curriculum so that the appropriate lessons can be learned and action taken, where necessary,” the Batley Multi Academy Trust said on its website.

Last year in France a Muslim teenager beheaded a teacher for showing the same cartoon in a school near Paris. It later turned out a French schoolgirl lied about the events that led to his beheading.