Australian Muslim Student Allegedly Forced to Watch Muhammad Cartoon

A Melbourne school is under fire for allegedly forcing a Muslim high school student to watch a cartoon depicting Prophet Muhammad, prompting an investigation from the Victorian state government.

A teacher working for Mount Ridley College in Craigieburn, 25 kilometers north of Melbourne's Central Business District, showed the material during a media lesson on October 14th.

The cartoon in question was the front page of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, depicting Prophet Muhammad. In 2015, the magazine's Paris office was attacked by two brothers for showing depictions of the prophet, killing 12 people and injuring 11 others.

Depictions of the Prophet are forbidden in most denominations of Islam. The high school student's father said on Facebook that the cartoon caused "painful psychological and mental trauma" to his daughter.

My daughter also tried to express her discomfort at the video, but unfortunately, the teacher didn’t care and continued to play the video, forcing my child to view that content,” the father added in the post.

Speaking to the Guardian and Daily Mail, the spokesperson for the Victorian education department said that the department began an investigation into the incident and promised to support students affected by the event.

The material was not part of the required curriculum for Victorian government schools. Some sources indicate that the students were warned first before seeing the material and were free to leave if they wished. The Muslim student spoke against the cartoon but did not leave the class, and the teacher continued showing the material.

However, the high school student's father and the Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV) expressed their disappointment with the incident. The father also demanded an apology from the school and asked for the teacher to be suspended from the institution.

The ICV talked with the Victorian education department and Mount Ridley College regarding the incident, with the school promising not to use the cartoon anymore during lessons.

Although the teacher's actions sparked outrage across the Muslim community in Victoria, a post regarding the incident in the subreddit r/Australia showed a different response. Commentators pointed out that whole societies should not be “held hostage to one religion’s wishes.”

The incident was not the first time that a teacher was implicated in using Charlie Hebdo cartoons as lesson material. Two years ago, a French high school teacher, Samuel Paty, was stabbed and beheaded by Abdullakh Anzorov, an 18-year-old Russian national and Chechen terrorist. Samuel reportedly angered his students' parents after showing a Charlie Hebdo Muhammad cartoon to his class.

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