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26th Mar 2021

Teacher ‘under police protection’ for showing pupils Muhammad cartoon

Charlie Herbert

Protests were held outside the teacher’s school on Thursday evening

A teacher, who has come under fire for showing his class a cartoon of the prophet Muhammad at a school in Bradford, has been placed under police protection.

Angry parents gathered outside Batley Grammar School on Thursday in protest after the teacher showed the image to pupils during a religious studies lesson.

In Islam, the Koran says that neither the prophet or Allah may be depicted in an image. It is deemed an insult to the religion and Muslims.

Perhaps the most famous example of the controversy of doing so is the 2015 gun attacks at the Charlie Hebdo offices, after the French magazine published a cartoon of the prophet on their front cover.

The Daily Telegraph (via the Mirror) has quoted an unnamed senior police source as saying that the teacher from the school was now at “a safe location” under police protection, and that the West Yorkshire Police have had meeting on how to keep them safe and handle the very sensitive situation.

The protests have been labelled as “completely unacceptable” by the government, but a Department for Education spokesperson has also criticised the caricature being shown in the lesson.

The spokesperson said:  “Schools are free to include a full range of issues, ideas and materials in their curriculum, including where they are challenging or controversial, subject to their obligations to ensure political balance.

“They must balance this with the need to promote respect and tolerance between people of different faiths and beliefs, including in deciding which materials to use in the classroom.”

The school’s headteacher, Gary Kibble, has released a statement “unequivocally” apologising for the use of a “totally inappropriate resource in a recent religious studies lessons.” In the statement, Mr Kibble also said that, whilst the teacher has “given their most sincere apologies,” they have been suspended ahead of a formal investigation.