Yorkshire grammar school caves in to Muslim protesters

Batley Grammar School in Yorkshire has apologised in the face of complaints and protests from Muslim parents over the alleged use of a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad during a recent Religious Studies lesson.

The apparent use of the image in a March 22 lesson sparked furious backlash from local parents, in a town where a huge chunk of the population is Muslim.

According to the 2011 census, 52.2% of Batley East is Muslim while 30.5% of the population are Muslim in Batley West. Data from the 2021 census will not be released for some time, with the final release of outputs not expected until March 2023.

The anger led this morning to large protests outside the school, causing the start of the school day to be pushed back to 10am.

Local police arrived at the scene this morning and threatened protesters with fines for breaching current coronavirus regulations against mass gatherings. A report from Yorkshire Live also suggests that the number plate of a police car had been stolen at the scene.

Local religious figure Mufti Mohammed Amin Pandor claimed that the teacher responsible for displaying the cartoon had been suspended, but confirmation or denial of that claim from the school has yet to come down.

Head teacher Gary Kibble wrote to parents and said: “The school would like to thank the parents who contacted us on Monday, March 22 highlighting concerns with a resource used in an RS lesson that day.

“Upon investigation, it was clear that the resource used in the lesson was completely inappropriate and had the capacity to cause great offence to members of our school community for which we would like to offer a sincere and full apology.”

He also went on to reassure the Muslim parents that the school “will undertake a formal review of the RS curriculum to ensure no other resource or statement is inappropriate and take appropriate action as needed.”

Visual depictions of Muhammad are prohibited according to certain traditions of Islam despite there being no ruling against it in the Koran, but Islamic blasphemy laws have not yet been added to the UK statute books.

The protests come just months after the behedding of French schoolteacher Samuel Paty over his use of a Charlie Hebdo cartoon in class.