An unnamed British teacher in his 20s who was suspended and is reportedly in hiding after showing a Prophet Muhammad caricature to pupils at Batley Grammar School told one angry Muslim parent that he was “right," the Mail Online claims.
The parent in question reportedly shared details of his “heated” exchange with the teacher in a WhatsApp message sent to Islamic parents and demonstrators who protested outside the school on Thursday and Friday. Although the school has “unequivocally” apologised for the teacher’s decision to show the “inappropriate” cartoon, the demonstrators are still calling for the man’s resignation.
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
But the RE teacher was not “apologetic” for showing the cartoon, reportedly taken from the French magazine Charlie Hebdo and considered blasphemous in the Muslim world, when speaking to a frustrated dad, the parent has reportedly revealed.
The Muslim father said he phoned the school after learning about the caricature incident from his son, who complained after coming home from school.
The teacher then returned the parent’s call and defended his right to freedom of speech, the Mail Online says. He explained that he warned pupils in his class that the image might be disturbing to some, but he showed it to spark debate.
“I expressed I was not happy with his actions and he had caused offence to the community. He should have known better, after all these images caused international outrage,” the parent allegedly said in a message reviewed by the Mail Online.
“He was not apologetic and was arrogant in his response that what he did was right. He stated that he knew some of the pupils would tell their parents.”
But according to the Mail, the teacher has since apologised for his actions and has gone into hiding with his family over concerns for his safety.
One source close to an unnamed teacher at Batley Grammar School told the media that there is a feeling among some parents that the teacher is being unfairly targeted as he apparently “did all he could to warn the pupils that some might be offended before he showed the caricature.”
“But when you get shouting and swearing and protests at the school gates, any chance of having a sensible debate just dies,” the insider says.
“Intimidation all round is the feeling why few people are speaking out on the teacher’s behalf and asking not to be identified,” the source added. “I spoke to my relative who is a governor at the school who has a child there and they feel the teacher is being unfairly blamed.”
Prophet Muhammad cartoons have triggered terrorist attacks in the past, including the 2015 shooting in Charlie Hebdo's headquarters. The magazine published several caricatures of the religious figure, which ultimately led to 12 deaths.
In October 2020, history and geography teacher Samuel Paty from France was beheaded by a terrorist after showing students Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons in a class about freedom of speech.