However, the tremendous show of support comes on the back of fears expressed by the teacher’s father that his son will be murdered by Islamic extremists, telling MailOnline: “Eventually they will get my son and he knows this. His whole world has been turned upside down. He’s devastated and crushed.” The 29-year-old teacher and his family are now living under police protection.
The creators of the petition, thought to be pupils of Mr D – his identity is being kept secret for his safety – are responding to the lack of support for their brave teacher. He was immediately suspended after angry demonstrators assembled outside the school last week, demanding Islamic traditions be respected.
Initial reaction from influential figures seemed to tilt in favour of the protesters – none of whom, it was later revealed, were parents of children at the school. Tracey Brabin, the Labour MP for Batley and Spen initially said the teacher’s actions were “inappropriate”, although she later revised her position. Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds blubbed about the need to “lower tensions”, but refused to defend free speech and backed the school’s decision to suspend the teacher. The headmaster chose to record a grovelling apology provoking a furious reaction from members of the public wanting to see British values defended more vigorously.
Conservative leaders have been more forthright in standing up for free speech, a position that seems to resonate more strongly with the pupils who started the petition and are backing their beloved teacher.
In an update to the petition, students praised Mr D for educating them on how “disgusting” racism “can truly be”, explaining that using images like those of the Prophet Muhammad taken from French satirical mag Charlie Hebdo, and reportedly used by the Batley teacher, are integral to educating against prejudice. They added that the class had been warned before the images were shown.
The update also railed against the on-the-fence posture adopted by the school and left-wing politicians.
“We outnumber those who oppose the RS teacher,” the update reads. “With a bit of hope and a lot of effort we can help out the teacher that has made such a positive impact on so many of our lives.
“This is our repayment to him. And to the people who oppose the teacher fiercely, we don’t wish to harm nor fight them. This is with peaceful intent.”
But the father of the Batley teacher says he fears his son will never be able to resume his career.
“My son keeps breaking down crying and says that it’s all over for him. He is worried that he and his family are all going to be killed,” the father told a Daily Mail reporter.
“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. He feels that everything is broken and to be honest, it’s hard to console him at the moment because that is the truth.”