Teacher suspended for showing Prophet Muhammad cartoon 'defends free speech in heated phone call with pupil's father'

THE TEACHER suspended over a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad allegedly "defended his right to freedom of speech" in a heated phone call with a Muslim pupil's father.

Reports claim the Religious Education teacher, 29, told the parent his "British values" allowed him to "show the cartoon to his class of year nine students."

According to Mail Online, the suspended teacher allegedly called the angry father of the Batley Grammar School student after he left a message with the school asking to speak with him.

The alleged phone call took place after the teacher showed a widely-reported caricature taken from the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo to his class.

He told the parent that he had warned his pupils that some would find it offensive – but his aim was to pose a question to his class.

In a group Whatsapp message, shared among Islamic parents and protesters who have demonstrated outside the school and seen by Mail Online, the angry father said: "He should have known better.

"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.


"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." 

The teacher has allegedly gone into hiding, and has not been seen at his home for several days, according to neighbours.

The 29-year-old is understood to be in hiding after he was named online by local charity Purpose of Life, which accused him of "sadistic behaviour".

But protesters said at least two other members of staff also faced potential disciplinary action.

And some claimed that the same material was used in the lesson about blasphemy last year but complaints from parents were ignored.

The teacher – a keen amateur rugby league player described by a neighbour as a "good, burly Yorkshire lad" – trained to teach in 2016.

He is understood to have four young children with his partner.

The row that's caused a national storm

  • A religious studies teacher showed pupils a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed from French magazine Charlie Hedbo earlier this week, it's claimed
  • The decision sparked fury – and locals gathered outside the school gates to protest yesterday and today, forcing the school to shut
  • The headteacher of the school has apologised and suspended the teacher, 29
  • But as political figures including Gavin Williamson wade in, cops feared the teacher was in danger
  • He, his wife and their four children have reportedly been rushed into hiding by police

The neighbour said: "He likes his rugby and always had a smile for us.”

It comes after dozens of protesters gathered at the gates of Batley Grammar School in West Yorkshire on Thursday and Friday.

The school was closed for a second day yesterday as cops man the gates.

One of the protesters told reporters the teacher should face criminal proceedings.

"Use of these materials was done in a deliberate, threatening and provocative manner, leaving children concerned for safety and wellbeing," he said.

"This incident must also be investigated from a criminal perspective given it was clear attempt to stir up religious hatred."

And he said protesters are calling on the "entire British Muslim community to review materials taught in their children's schools", especially if they relate to "offensive content, inappropriate relationships and sexual education".

Another protester added: "We're not inciting any hatred, we don't want people to get injured or harmed, but, at the same time, you should learn from what's happened and know these kinds of things will bring about people getting very emotional."

Housing Minister Robert Jenrick said he was 'disturbed' to hear that the teacher has been forced into hiding.

"It's very disturbing," he said.

"That's not a road we want to go down in this country, so I'd strongly urge people who are concerned about this issue not to do that."

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has called the "threats and intimidation" aimed at the teacher "completely unacceptable" – and said schools must be allowed to expose pupils to "challenging or controversial" issues.

"It is never acceptable to threaten or intimidate teachers," he said.

"We encourage dialogue between parents and schools when issues emerge.

"However, the nature of protest we have seen, including issuing threats and in violation of coronavirus restrictions are completely unacceptable and must be brought to an end."

But campaigners have accused the Department for Education of amplifying divisions.

Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Manchester-based Ramadhan Foundation, said the community rejected any violence or threat of violence, and said the incident "will not be hijacked by those who have an interest in perpetuating an image of Muslims".

"It's alarming that the Department for Education chose to amplify those divisions by attacking the parents and pupils, rather than looking how we can come together to have a respectful discussion," he said.

"There is still time for calmer heads among the department."

Sajid Javid, the former Chancellor, is among the political figures to spoke out against the protests.

He said: "In this country we are free to peacefully follow, preach or query any religion or none.

"These are hard-won freedoms that must be upheld by all public institutions.

"Reports of intimidation in Batley set a deeply unsettling and potentially dangerous precedent."

Teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded last October by an Islamist terrorist in France after showing his pupils a cartoon of the prophet.

In a letter to parents, Batley headmaster Gary Kibble, offered a “sincere and full apology" adding the picture shown was “completely inappropriate”.

School bosses held a meeting with a local Imam before suspending the teacher.

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