Schools Trust Clears Teacher Forced into Hiding, But Says It’s ‘Not Necessary’ to Use Mohammed Cartoons

BATLEY, ENGLAND - MARCH 26: People gather 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 outside the school gates yesterday …
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

A schools trust has cleared of wrongdoing a teacher who went into hiding following death threats for showing cartoons of Mohammed to his class, but said that it was “not necessary” to use the images of the Islamic prophet.

Batley Multi Academy Trust has cleared a young teacher who was suspended from Batley Grammar School in March after showing his class cartoons of Mohammed — considered offensive in Islam — during a lesson on blasphemy, finding he did not intentionally cause offence, clearing him to return to work.

A letter from the Trust published on its website on Wednesday reads: “The independent investigation has concluded and the Trust has accepted that the teaching staff who developed and delivered the lesson genuinely believed that using the image had an educational purpose and benefit, and that it was not used with the intention of causing offence.”

It also accepted that the cartoons had been used in other classes before.

The board, which manages half a dozen schools of mixed ages in the West Yorkshire town, added that using the images “did cause deep offence to a number of students, parents and members of our school community”, saying that it “deeply regrets the distress this has caused”.

The Trust said that “in respect of the views of our school community the Trust is clear that it is not necessary for staff to use the material in question to deliver the learning outcomes on the subject of blasphemy; or any such images of the type used on 22 March for use in any Trust RS lessons, or any other lessons” — effectively banning images of the Islamic prophet from its curriculum.

However, a local parents group was not happy with the report, complaining that their representatives were not involved and claimed that it “fails to address how it is possible that teachers were unaware of the offence it would cause”.

A spokeswoman for Batley Multi Academy Trust told the BBC on Thursday that Batley Grammar School would adopt the investigation’s recommendations “immediately” and would lift the suspension of the teacher.

But it is likely that the teacher, a father of four young children, might not want to return to the school. After his suspension and protests outside of the Batley grammar, the educator was forced into hiding for months and was under police protection as a result of death threats from Muslim extremists.

Several prominent figures have reacted to the ruling, notably highlighting how the local school board said that the images should not be used in future.

London Assembly Member and Director of the New Culture Forum Peter Whittle called it an “utter defeat” and condemned politicians who “backed away from standing up for both the teacher and free speech. Paradoxically this reveals the sheer importance of the issue and principles at stake.”

The Free Speech Union stated: “The teacher’s job, safety and livelihood should never have been in doubt. We’re glad the teacher can return to the school. But there is no law against blasphemy, and mobs outside a school can’t be allowed to impose one by force.”

Journalist and former Brexit Party MEP Martin Daubney called it a “huge climb down”, declaring: “The bullies won: thugs at school gates can shape how our children are taught.”

“Make no mistake, what’s happened at Batley Grammar School today is back door blasphemy laws. A template has been set: parents & activists hound heretics into hiding, in fear of their lives; school abandons teacher & bows to the mob. A truly dark day for tolerance in Britain,” Mr Daubney warned.

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