In March 2021, a teacher showed his students a cartoon of Prophet Muhammad by the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo during a lesson at Batley Grammar School. His action sparked protests outside the school, with dozens of people deeming it "inappropriate" and some of them demanding him to be fired.
Inaya Folarin Iman: How is it possible in a liberal, free and open democratic society that a teacher from Batley Grammar school, who showed pupils a cartoon of the prophet Mohammed, is still in hiding? pic.twitter.com/ok0rIOzEmr
— GB News (@GBNEWS) June 20, 2021
The protests led to headteacher Gary Kibble apologizing and assuring a suspension for the teacher. He said, "We have immediately withdrawn teaching on this part of the course, and we are reviewing how we go forward with the support of all the communities represented in our school."
In May 2021, after two months of an independent external investigation by the school's governing trustees, it was found that the teacher had shown the image on multiple occasions but did not intend to offend. Hence, the teacher was reinstated after the investigation concluded that the teacher "genuinely believed that using the image had an educational purpose and benefit" to discuss the meaning of blasphemy.
However, it was reported that the teacher and his family have been in hiding since the end of March because of intimidation and threats.
The education secretary with the Department of Education, Gavin Williamson, issued a statement saying, "It is never acceptable to threaten or intimidate teachers. 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."
Two other teachers, who were also suspended and reinstated, have refused to return to the school over fears. As such, all three teachers of the RE department have been replaced by supply staff. The three teachers remain on full pay with the support of the National Education Union.
"On paper, he's got his job back but returning to the school is not a possibility," said a source close to the teacher. "An inquiry might have cleared him, but it doesn't mean a thing because he doesn't feel safe teaching there and genuinely fears that he could be killed."