Batley Grammar School in West Yorkshire had to be closed last week and pupils given lessons online after angry parents gathered to condemn the use of the image in a religious studies lesson on Monday. The school issued an apology and the teacher was suspended, but now an online petition has attracted a wave of support. Set up by someone calling themselves BGS Student, it states the teacher had been trying to show “the truth of racism” and they had seen him “defend the integrity of all religions within classes”.
The student said the petition was “repayment” to the teacher who had made “such a positive impact” on their lives.
The RE teacher is reported to have “defended his right to freedom of speech” during a heated phone call with the father who complained.
He reportedly told the parent “British values allowed him to present a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad to his class of year nine students as part of their course work”.
The teacher is now said to have left the home he shares with his partner and young children and be under police protection.
The Communities Secretary, Robert Jenrick, said suggestions the teacher was in hiding were “very disturbing”.
Mr Jenrick said: “It must be right that a teacher can appropriately show images of the Prophet Muhammad.
“In a free society, we want religions to be taught to children and for children to be able to question and query them.”