Batley Grammar School: Parents call for calm as petition supporting teacher passes 60,000

Samuel Osborne
Monday 29 March 2021 14:20 BST
Protests continue outside Batley Grammar School

Parents at Batley Grammar School have called for calm amid a row over a teacher who showed students a caricature of the Prophet Mohammed.

A petition in support of the teacher, who apologised after showing the cartoon widely reported to be taken from the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, has passed more than 60,000 signatures.

The row has prompted protests outside the West Yorkshire school, which has apologised and suspended the teacher involved on Thursday pending an investigation.

On Sunday, Yunus Lunat, a spokesperson for the Batley Parents And Community Partnership, said the teacher had failed to realise the image was "loaded with Islamophobic tropes".

He said: "We believe that in a democratic society everyone holds a right to opinion and expression, however, we as parents and citizens also believe that with these rights come responsibility.

"We as parents and citizens stand resolute that our children should be able to attend school without having their faith - which is protected in law - or their culture ridiculed, insulted or vilified."

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He went on to say children should be “allowed to engage with challenging ideas such as blasphemy, without their teachers having to resort to using Islamophobic material,” which he said “only serves to marginalise Muslim communities and spread Islamophobic sentiment”.

However, he added: “We are invested in dialogue and legitimate engagement. Any and all such threats against the school and staff involved undermine our efforts and are completely contrary to our values as concerned parents, citizens and Muslims.

“We therefore call for calm in order to allow for fruitful dialogue and space for a transparent investigation.”

Protesters had gathered outside the school gates on Thursday and Friday, claiming the school had not taken the issue seriously and saying they would continue demonstrating until the teacher was sacked.

However, the school is now facing calls to reinstate the teacher after a petition in support of him reached more than 60,000 signatures in three days.

West Yorkshire Police said a number of complaints have been made in relation to the incident.

Officers attended both protests after dozens of people stood outside the school, partially blocking the road.

A police spokesperson said: "As might be expected given the high public profile of what has happened, there have been a number of complaints about various matters relating to this issue.

"These are being reviewed in more detail but this is an ongoing situation."

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