Batley Grammar School teacher suspended for showing a cartoon of Mohammed

Mar 26, 2021 by

by Archbishop Cranmer:

A Batley Grammar School teacher is today in hiding and under police protection. He had shown the infamous Charlie Hebdo cartoon of Mohammed during a Religious Studies class, and the mob descended. They wanted him to be sacked immediately for disrespecting their prophet, so the Headteacher Gary Kibble politely but firmly reminded them that there is no sharia blasphemy code in Batley Grammar, and that teachers are permitted to use age-appropriate resources in order to explore sensitive subjects and encourage critical thinking made a statement:

The school unequivocally apologises for using a totally inappropriate image in a recent religious studies lesson. It should not have been used. The member of staff has also relayed their most sincere apologies. We have immediately withdrawn teaching on this part of the course and we are reviewing how we go forward with the support of all the communities represented in our school. The member of staff has been suspended pending an independent, formal investigation…

This is quite simply shameful. Setting aside the fact that Batley Grammar School has no religious foundation but is now apparently subject to a particular sharia blasphemy code, it is astonishing that the Headteacher did not use this opportunity to defend his teacher and to make it clear that academic freedom permits Islam to be critiqued and Mohammed to be portrayed – even as a satirical cartoon.

The context was a lesson on religious extremism and the terror attack on the office of Charlie Hebdo in Paris. The teacher asked his students who was to blame, the cartoonist or the terrorists. The lesson was designed to elicit critical thinking and philosophical inquiry. You may say he could have posed this question without showing the cartoon, but why shouldn’t he show the cartoon? Satire is legal: a picture speaks a thousands words – especially in education – and this school is in England, not Pakistan.

If the Headteacher “unequivocally apologises for using a totally inappropriate image” of Mohammed during a Religious Studies lesson, would he unequivocally apologise for using any image of Mohammed in any educational context? In the Sunni tradition, schools of sharia forbid all images of their prophet, but in the Shia tradition, he has been depicted for centuries. If a Sunni mob descended on his school protesting against such blasphemy, would Gary Kibble robustly defend a teacher for showing a depiction of Mohammed in the context of Shia art, or would he issue another grovelling apology with an assurance that the course will be reviewed and all resources made fully Sunni-sharia compliant?

Read here

Read also: What has really changed in West Yorkshire – or elsewhere in Britain – since copies of The Satanic Verses were burned? by Paul Goodman, Conservative Home

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