Teacher who showed Muhammad cartoon “under police protection” amid backlash

A teacher who showed a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad to students is reportedly under police protection. amid a backlash from parents.

There were protests outside Batley Grammar School, near Bradford, on Thursday after a member of staff showed the image during a religious studies lesson this week

The school has “unequivocally” apologised for showing “totally inappropriate” material to children and said a member of staff has been suspended pending an investigation.

Quoting an unnamed senior police source the Daily Telegraph said the teacher in question was now receiving police protection, and was at a ‘safe location’.

The source told the paper there had been meetings at West Yorkshire Police of how to handle the fallout and keep the teacher safe.

The insider said: “Officers have been especially assigned to him. This is obviously very sensitive..”

A Department for Education spokesperson criticised both the display of the caricature and the nature of the protest.

“It is never acceptable to threaten or intimidate teachers,” the spokesman said. “We encourage dialogue between parents and schools when issues emerge.

“However, the nature of protest we have seen, including issuing threats and in violation of coronavirus restrictions are completely unacceptable and must be brought to an end.

“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.”

A West Yorkshire Police spokesman said the school road was closed for a short time, no arrests were made and no fines were issued.

In a statement, Batley Grammar School headteacher Gary Kibble said: “The school unequivocally apologises for using a totally inappropriate resource in a recent religious studies lesson.

“The member of staff has also given their most sincere apologies.

“We have immediately withdrawn teaching on this part of the course and we are reviewing how we go forward with the support of all the communities represented in our school.

“It is important for children to learn about faiths and beliefs, but this must be done in a sensitive way.

“The member of staff has been suspended pending an independent formal investigation.”