25 March 2021
A religious education teacher was placed under police protection and received death threats after showing a press cartoon to his class on Monday 22 March, during a lesson on religion and freedom of expression at Batley Grammar School in West Yorkshire (northern England), according to many press sources.
The teacher was suspended by the headteacher three days after the case came to light, while people blocked and protested, albeit non-violently, outside the school, demanding his immediate dismissal.
According to recent press sources, two other teachers were suspended because they knew that the RE teacher was going to show a press cartoon in his class. In response to the backlash, headteacher Gary Kiddle sent an apology email to parents, which was read publicly at the protests, stating:
“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.“
The cartoon mentioned has not been identified, but some parents thought it was a cartoon from the newspaper Charlie Hebdo depicting the Prophet Mohammed. Opponents of the teacher, including members of the religious community, have strongly condemned his teaching methods. An independent investigation against the school will start, according to a statement from the Batley Multi Academy Trust, who runs this school.
The teacher was threatened and his identity was revealed online, according to press sources, he and his family have reportedly been moved to a safe house. UK Education Secretary Gavin Williamson publicly condemned the threats against the teacher, underlining the right of schools to include resources they wish in their curriculum, even on controversial subject, as long as they promote respect and tolerance.
Cartooning for Peace is afflicted to witness the same kind of serious incident that led to the tragic murder of Samuel Paty a few months ago. Cartooning for Peace hopes that the safety of the professor and his family is fully assured and hopes he will be rehabilitated as soon as possible.