The school apologised after two dozen protestors, mainly men, gathered outside Batley Grammar School after a teacher showed a class caricatures of Prophet Muhammed seen as anti-Islam and defamatory by Muslims around the world.

Students are seen inside Batley Grammar School in Batley, West Yorkshire, England in this picture taken from Twitter.
Students are seen inside Batley Grammar School in Batley, West Yorkshire, England in this picture taken from Twitter. (Twitter/@BatleyGS)

A state high school in northern England has apologised and suspended a teacher for sharing in class a controversial cartoon of Prophet Muhammad, seen as anti-Islam and defamatory by Muslims, after facing protests.

Protesters on Thursday demanded action after the incident which took place at a school in West Yorkshire, which has a large Muslim community.

Sky News said the image shown at Batley Grammar School was taken from the same series of cartoons first published in the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, whose Paris office was attacked in 2015, leaving 12 people dead.

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'Totally inappropriate image'

"The school unequivocally apologises for using a totally inappropriate image in a recent religious studies lesson," school principal Gary Kibble said in a televised statement.

"The member of staff has also related their most sincere apologies," he said.

"It's important for children to learn about faiths and beliefs. This must be done in a respectful, sensitive way." 

Around two dozen protestors, mainly men in hooded tops, gathered outside the school gates on Thursday to demand resignations following the class, which reportedly took place on Monday.

The founder of a local charity called Purpose Of Life, Muhammad Sajad Hussain, said he was "deeply hurt" by the "insulting caricatures of our beloved Prophet Mohammed".

He said the charity was unwilling to continue its work with the school until the teacher was "permanently removed".

However, the National Secular Society called the protest an "attempt to impose an Islamic blasphemy taboo on a school".

There was no immediate comment from the British government.

In 2019, Muslim parents staged protests at a primary school in the central city of Birmingham after it held lessons incorporating same-sex relationships and transgender issues.

Depictions of the prophets are strictly avoided in Islam. 

However, the objections to the Charlie Hebdo cartoons in particular include the additional complaint that they were produced with the deliberate intention of denigrating a figure of great reverence in Islam, thereby mocking the Muslim community as a whole. They were also produced within the context of the French state’s terse relationship with the Muslim community.

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Source: AFP