Protests erupted outside a school after a teacher’s lesson sparked accusations of “blasphemy.” The Muslim community was offended, and the teacher was suspended from his job and forced into hiding due to death threats.
A teacher at Batley Grammar School in Britain’s West Yorkshire was forced into hiding after the Muslim community took serious offense to a classroom lesson. The 29-year-old educator, who remains unnamed for his safety, sparked heated protests for a simple image he showed students during a Religious Education class.
According to the Daily Mail, the teacher used a caricature of the Islamic prophet Muhammad to show an example of what Muslims consider to be blasphemous imagery. The cartoon is believed to be a drawing from French magazine Charlie Hebdo, which specializes in political, religious, and social satire.
The school was forced to close and bring in police security while the local Muslim community gathered in front of the school for several days to protest the cartoon. Muslim parents claim that the teacher knew of the dangers of his actions and warned students that he would face a serious backlash for showing the image. As predicted, the educator was suspended.
Along with the possibility of never being able to teach in the community ever again, the teacher and his wife and 4 children have been forced into hiding due to threats on his life. Under Sharia law, the penalty for those who insult Muhammad either in speech or expression is execution, as it is considered unforgivable blasphemy.
A protester speaking outside the school gates “on behalf of the Muslim community” attempted to twist the narrative, claiming that the children fear for their lives because of the cartoon. He made no mention that it is the teacher who received threats on his life and was forced into hiding. Perhaps his most disturbing comment was his call for criminal charges to be made against the educator.
“Use of these materials was done in a deliberate, threatening and provocative manner, leaving children concerned for their safety and wellbeing,” he said. “This incident must also be investigated from a criminal perspective given it was a clear attempt to stir up religious hatred.”
In a desperate but futile attempt to quell the outrage, headmaster Gary Kibble offered a “sincere and full apology” to the Muslim community, stating that the teacher’s behavior was “unequivocally” and “completely inappropriate.” However, his apology only stoked further anger as protesters demanded the school stop protecting the teacher. Ironically, they called the educator a “danger” to their community.
A senior police source confirmed to The Telegraph that the teacher went underground and requires round-the-clock police protection. As protesters shouted “Allahu Akbar!” they demanded the school permanently terminate his position.
The National Secular Society condemned the threats against the educator as well as the disruptive protests, calling them an “attempt to impose an Islamic blasphemy taboo on the school.” The organization defended that “teachers must have a reasonable degree of freedom to explore sensitive subjects” in order to teach students critical thinking.
The Charlie Hebdo headquarters was the scene of a mass shooting carried out by Muslims offended over the magazine’s portrayals of their prophet. French teacher Samuel Platy was beheaded for showing unsavory caricatures of Muhammad. The act of portraying Muhammad in a negative light can easily cost the offender their life.
It’s disturbing that a simple drawing can lead to serious death threats, school closures, and a possible criminal investigation in a country that isn’t subject to Islamic law.