British Teacher Still in Hiding After Showing Mohammed Cartoon Six Weeks Ago

BATLEY, ENGLAND - MARCH 26: People speak with a police liaison officer outside the gates of Batley Grammar School, after a teacher was suspended for showing an image of the Prophet Muhammad in class, on March 26, 2021 in Batley, England. A few dozen people, including parents of students, gathered …
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

A British teacher who showed his class a caricature of Islam’s prophet, Mohammed, during a lesson on blasphemy remains under police protection six weeks after the incident, amid fears of retribution against him and his family.

The teacher was suspended from his position at Batley Grammar School in March, later being forced into hiding after a local Islamic group shared his identity online, saying that the teacher had committed an act of “terrorism” by “insulting Islam“. He remains in a safe house with his wife and children to this day.

The Mail on Sunday reported that the threat against him and his family has been deemed so severe that even their close relatives have been kept in the dark as to their whereabouts.

Concerns have been raised that the teacher may face similar violent revenge to that which befell French teacher Samuel Paty, who was beheaded in the street by a Muslim refugee after he showed a caricature of Mohammed from the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo during a lesson on freedom of expression.

The paper also reported that the teacher’s home has had its windows papered over, with neighbours claiming that the family has moved out for good, and their children have been unable to attend school.

One Muslim neighbour of the family recalled a conversation had with the teacher’s wife: “She just said she was upset and their lives had been turned upside down. They could not reveal their location. They were the nicest family. They used to give us Eid cards. It’s awful what has happened. He was not Islamophobic at all.”

Some local Muslim leaders, including some of those who staged a protest outside of the school, have reportedly backed the reinstatement of the teacher, feeling that the issue has been taken too far.

However, Imam Adil Shahzad is still calling for the teacher to be sacked, saying: “A precedent has to be set. Suspending the teacher was in the right direction and we won’t accept anything less than a sacking.”

The Batley Multi Academy Trust is currently conducting an “independent” investigation into the incident, yet the results of the inquiry are not expected to be announced until late this month, leaving the teacher and his family in limbo for the time being.

The Mail on Sunday has also published the first eyewitness account of the Religious Studies lesson in which the teacher showed the Charlie Hebdo caricature of the Islamic prophet on March 22nd.

Speaking to the paper through his father, a 14-year-old Muslim student at the school said that the caricature was displayed alongside images of former US President Donald Trump, Pope Francis and Boris Johnson.

The pupil said that children in the classroom were initially unaware that it was in fact a depiction of Mohammed until the “atheist” teacher explained it to them.

“No one said anything. I was just gobsmacked. But no one raised their hand to say anything,” the pupil claimed.

The pupit did go on to say that the teacher had never previously insulted the Islamic faith, saying: “He never said anything bad, but he likes to challenge pupils’ minds. That’s the way he teaches.”

Other pupils at the school have organised a petition, which to date has received over 70,000 signatures, calling for the immediate reinstatement of the teacher.

“The [Religious Studies] 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. He does not deserve such large repercussions. He is not racist and did not support the Islamiphobic [sic] 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 petition said.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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