Cartoon that sparked protests at Yorkshire school shown to pupils a 'week before row'

2 months ago 17

A cartoon of Prophet Muhammad that sparked furious protests at a Yorkshire school was shown to pupils a 'week before row by another member of staff', a parent has claimed.  

The picture, believed to be one from French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, was, according to The Times, shown by another teacher a week before the unrest at Batley Grammar School, West Yorkshire. 

Furious protesters rallied outside the school gates for two days last week chanting  'shame on you' after a teacher, who has not been named, produced the cartoon as part of an RE lesson on blasphemy.

Protesters stand outside Batley Grammar School in West Yorkshire after pupils were shown a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad

One parent of a pupil at Batley Grammar School (pictured) has claimed the school had shown the cartoon in lessons a week before the protests

A large group of protesters rallied outside the school gates for two days last week chanting 'shame on you' after the incident 

Three teachers are being investigated for the incident and were suspended at the same time when a pupil complained to their parents.

The teacher, in his late 20s, who is not being named, has gone into hiding with his partner and their four children after receiving death threats with head teacher Gary Kibble quick to announce that he had been suspended pending an investigation. 

One parent has claimed the image tied up with the row was shown in an RE lesson before the latest outcry and said it was 'ridiculous' the school has not mentioned it. 

She said: 'This is why me and my husband, and lots of other parents, have said: "Why has this come out now and not the week before?"

'My son said the lesson was fine. They got told that there would be some images and if people didn’t want to see them, they didn’t have to look.' 

Batley Grammar School has been approached for comment.  

A school source told MailOnline this week that the blasphemy row had been part of the curriculum but that Mr Kibble and the school hierarchy had not authorised showing of the cartoon. A Muslim pupil was offended by the lesson and their parents complained. 

A source confirmed to MailOnline: 'Two other teachers are also being investigated but the school has been trying to keep it secret because they don't want attention being drawn to the fact that this went beyond the actions of one person.

An independent investigation will probe how pupils at the school were shown the cartoon and three teachers have been suspended

Last week dozens of furious parents protested outside the historic school and called for the teacher to be sacked

'They were not in the class at time but were aware that offensive material was going to be used, it is claimed.' 

The source added: 'Blasphemy features on the school curriculum and images have been used before by teachers. But not this one. This was the first time that this particular image was shown during a lesson. 

'This picture was not part of the approved teaching materials and we do not know why the teacher chose it. It appears, there were no proper checks in place.

'There is nothing to suggest that either of them used this particular image themselves in lessons, but they knew what was going on and it points to a breakdown in the system.'

The source added that in previous years, depictions of the Prophet Muhammad have been shown during lessons on blasphemy, but teachers often forewarn their pupils about it and allow those who may be offended to leave the class. 

The mother believes placing all the blame on the teacher, in his 20s, is wrong. 

For Muslims, any depiction of the Prophet Muhammad, or any of the other prophets of the faith is strictly forbidden.

Pictures - as well as statues - are thought to encourage the worship of idols, which is strictly prohibited. 

The Batley Grammar School teacher sparked fury by allegedly showing pupils cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a RE lesson. Pictured: Protesters outside the school on Friday

It prompted a wave of protests last week with those taking part in a prayer outside the school in Batley, West Yorkshire. The school was shut down and the unnamed teacher was suspended 

But there is no specific ruling in the Koran explicitly against depicting the Prophet with many experts claiming that it stems from the Hadiths, the book about his life and sayings. 

Batley Multi Academy Trust, which runs Batley Grammar School has announced an independent investigation, which is set to begin on April 12 and aims to conclude by the end of May.

An inquiry panel is being established to drill down into the 'context' of the episode.

All three suspended teachers will be grilled about their role in the affair and could face possible dismissal, if it finds that they broke rules on how lessons should be delivered.

The names of teaching staff have been removed from the school’s website to prevent the three teachers from being identified and other teachers being targeted by those angry at recent events.

The Trust said in a statement: 'We understand everyone will want clarity as soon as possible.'

It added: 'We're grateful for the constructive engagement with all our stakeholders over the last few days with regard to Batley Grammar, one of the schools within our trust.

Batley Grammar School had to delay its opening and told pupils to stay at home amid chaotic scenes at its gates earlier this week

'We believe the right way forward is for an independent investigation to review the context in which the materials (which caused offence) were used, and to make recommendations in relation to the Religious Studies curriculum so that the appropriate lessons can be learned, and action taken, where necessary.' 

The father of the RE teacher who showed the cartoon told MailOnline earlier this week how his son fears he will be murdered - and feels that he can never go back to his old life.

The father said: 'He is worried that he and his family are all going to be killed.

'He knows that he's not going to be able to return to work or live in Batley. It's just going to be too dangerous for him and his family.

'Look what happened to the teacher in France who was killed for doing the same thing. Eventually they will get my son and he knows this. His whole world has been turned upside down. He's devastated and crushed.

'When he starts speaking, he just breaks down and cries. He's become an emotional wreck.'

One of the teacher's neighbours told MailOnline: 'He's a nice man. I see him go off to school, but not today or the day before.'

He was described by another neighbour as a 'local lad' who studied close to home and decided to teach in the area he was born and raised.

Mufti Mohammed Amin Pandor, a local Muslim scholar, told the crowd in Batley this week that the teacher has been suspended

Police descend on Batley Grammar School in West Yorkshire today as dozens of furious Muslim parents protest outside

The neighbour said: 'He's a good, honest Yorkshire lad. Likes his rugby and always had a smile for us.' 

Earlier this week Mr Kibble, headteacher of the school founded in 1612 by the Reverend William Lee, said the RE teacher has been suspended, and went on to issue a 'sincere' and 'unequivocal' apology. 

He called the image 'totally inappropriate' and said the school had 'immediately withdrawn teaching on this part of the course'.

In a televised statement, he added: 'It is important for children to learn about faiths and beliefs, but this must be done in a respectful, sensitive way.

'The school is working closely with our governing body and community leaders to help us resolve this situation, and we continue to do so.'

The protests in Yorkshire this week come five months after history teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded on the street near his school in a Paris suburb by an Islamic extremist last October after showing Prophet Muhammad cartoons to his students.

The killing shocked the country and led to a fresh debate about freedom of speech and the integration of France's large Muslim population. 

It also brought back memories of a wave of Islamist violence that started with the Charlie Hebdo massacre, sparked by the same cartoons in the satirical magazine in 2015 when gunmen killed 12 people.

A few days ago it was revealed the union representing the teacher had donated money to the charity that went on to oust him.

The National Education Union's (NEU) Kirklees branch, in West Yorkshire, had donated £3,000 to the charity Purpose of Life who went on to publish the teacher's name online.

The Islamic charity, which has now removed the teacher's name from its online post, has since been accused of 'endangering his safety' and acting in a 'reckless' manner and have been reported to the Charity Commission.

An NEU spokesperson said: 'The NEU is fully supporting its members at Batley school, and has been since the start.'

They added: 'While the National Education Union is extremely disappointed that this organisation published the statement, it has now withdrawn the name and apologised.

'We would ask all organisations including those on social media to allow the school to conduct its investigations out of the media spotlight and for our member to be given the privacy that they should be entitled to.'

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