Batley Grammar School in West Yorkshire had to delay its opening on Thursday, as enraged Muslim parents protested outside the school building because a teacher had allegedly shown caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad during a religious education class.
The crowd of parents, with about 20 to 30 pupils in tow, remained near the school until at least the afternoon, according to the Huddersfield Examiner.
The protest forced police to block off the road leading to the school which was founded in 1612 by a Christian, the Reverend William Lee in Batley, a market and mill town in the Kirkless region. Muslims now make up 41 percent of Batley’s population.
A message spread on social media last night urging people to turn up and demand the resignation of the teacher implicated in the sensitive case.
In an email sent to parents head teacher Gary Kibble apologised for the "inappropriate" resource used in the classroom.
"The school would like to thank the parents who contacted us on 22 March highlighting concerns with a resource used in an RS lesson that day,” the letter read, continuing:
"Upon investigation, it was clear that the resource used in the lesson was completely inappropriate and had the capacity to cause great offence to members of our school community for which we would like to offer a sincere and full apology."
Muslims & Islamist networks have been calling for people to protest the Batley Grammar School in West Yorkshire, England to demand the firing of a teacher who allegedly showed Charlie Hebdo cartoons in a lesson. The school has immediately apologized. pic.twitter.com/Urmth6mxfZ— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) March 25, 2021
A spokesperson for Batley Grammar School also apologised, saying that althoughit is crucial for children to learn about faiths and beliefs, this “must be done in a sensitive way”.
The school representative confirmed, after an announcement by local Muslim scholar, the Mufti Mohammed Amin Pandor, that the teacher responsible had been suspended in the wake of the controversy.
Accusations that a teacher has shown a derogatory caricature of the Prophet Muhammad brings protests to a West Yorkshire school this morning— London & UK Crime (@CrimeLdn) March 25, 2021
The incident sees police drafted in this morning to Batley Grammar School, as roads are blocked and vehicles sent pic.twitter.com/VxbuMM9Wlt
“Now we've asked for an investigation, an investigation to be independent, and we have asked also that some of us get onto the investigation panel”, Pandor, for his part, called.
Local Syllabus or Acting ‘In Accordance With School's Designated Religion’
The updated religious education syllabus for Calderdale, Leeds and Kirkess, where the school is located, envisages that pupils should be taught to “give reasons why visual representations of God and the prophets is forbidden - haram - in Islam” by the end of key stage two. Yet, the document stops short of specifying whether teachers should show any of these images, a Daily Mail report has said.
National guidelines from the Department for Education, whose latest Ofsted rating deemed Batley Grammar as “good”, don’t especially touch upon visual materials on the Prophet Muhammad either.
They say that RE must be taught according to “either the locally agreed syllabus or in accordance with the school's designated religion or religious denomination, or in certain cases the trust deed relating to the school”.
From Charlie Hebdo Shooting Spree to Samuel Paty Tragedy
Today’s protest at Batley came months after teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded in a Paris suburb by a Muslim immigrant, who reportedly acted upon learning that the teacher showed his students caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad during lessons on freedom of speech.
The caricatures were published by the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in 2015 and immediately landed in the crosshairs of the Muslim population across the world, prompting a series of terrorist attacks in France that left 17 people dead and dozens injured, including the Charlie Hebdo massacre, when gunmen killed 12.