Teacher who showed 'Prophet Muhammad cartoon' to pupils 'backed by student petition'

26 March 2021, 15:02 | Updated: 26 March 2021, 15:09

Batley Grammar School in West Yorkshire has been criticised for showing an "inappropriate" cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad
Batley Grammar School in West Yorkshire has been criticised for showing an "inappropriate" cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad. Picture: PA

By Will Taylor

A petition backing the Batley Grammar School teacher who showed an "inappropriate" cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad has been set up, purportedly by a student.

Protesters gathered outside the school in West Yorkshire over the past two days after the image was shown to children in a religious studies lesson.

The teacher has been suspended pending an investigation and is reportedly under police protection, while the school has moved to remote learning today.

The online petition, set up by a user called "A BGS student", states the teacher "was trying to educate students about racism and blasphemy".

However, it is not yet clear whether it was set up by a student of the school.

LBC has asked to speak to the petition’s creator through the petition website.

It adds: "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 Islamophobic cartoons in any manner."

Depictions of Prophet Muhammad are deemed offensive in Islam and sparked outrage and protests in past instances.

Dozens of pupils and parents and a local religious scholar turned up at the school today.

Parents were told last night and this morning that the school was going to switch to remote learning today.

"Think of those who would be affected due to this lesson spiralled (sic) out of hand?" the petition adds.

"Teachers, the school, the community, children, the RS teacher's family and his own financial stability since he will no longer be able to land a job due to the fact that his reputation has been tarnished. The issue is already nationwide."

Earlier today, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick told LBC he was “deeply troubled” by reports the teacher was in hiding.

"This is a country based on free speech, and teachers should be able to tackle difficult and controversial issues in the classroom and issues shouldn't be censored," he told Nick Ferrari.

"And secondly, and most importantly, it is absolutely unacceptable for teachers and staff in our schools to be threatened or intimidated.”

He added that schools, parents and children should not feel “intimidated” coming in to school.

He said worries about the teacher were "reminiscent of the scenes we saw in France", in reference to the killing of Samuel Paty last year, a history teacher who showed a class a cartoon of Prophet Muhammad.

Batley Grammar School has been contacted for comment.