50,000 sign petition supporting teacher in Prophet Muhammad controversy
The petition claims to have been set up by students from the school
Over 50,000 people have signed a petition supporting the teacher who showed his class a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad in a Religious Studies lesson. Protests have been held outside Batley Grammar School since the incident came to light, and the teacher has been suspended pending an investigation by the school.
Any depictions or image of the Prophet Muhammad is deemed deeply offensive in Islam, and the incident has sparked an angry reaction from parents and the wider Muslim community in the area.
Despite the school's head teacher, Gary Kibble, having issued a statement saying that both he and the teacher apologise for the incident, and announcing that the member of staff has been temporarily removed from their position, some of the protestors have said that they will not stop until the teacher is fired.
However a petition defending them has now gathered tens of thousands of signatures. The petition has apparently been set up by students at the school, and argues that the teacher should be reinstated due to "his pure intentions." It goes on to say that "he does not deserve such large repercussions" and that the situation has got "out of hand."
The teacher apparently showed his class the image, thought to be the same image that led to the Charlie Hebdo shootings of 2015, as a way of discussing the issue of blasphemy and had warned the class that some may find it offensive.
The teacher has been placed under police protection by West Yorkshire police for his own safety.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has however condemned the protests, describing them as "not right" and defending the teacher's right to show the image, comments that are only likely to fan the flames of the anger and controversy around the issue.