LONDON: A state high school in northern England apologized on Thursday and suspended a teacher as a chanting crowd condemned the use of an image of the Prophet Mohammed in class.
The incident at the school in West Yorkshire, which has a large Muslim community, came after a teacher in France was killed in October by a radical Chechen teenager for showing cartoons of the prophet to students during a lesson on free speech.
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 assaulted in 2015 by Islamic extremists, claiming the lives of 12 people.
In a televised statement, school principal Gary Kibble said “the school unequivocally apologizes for using a totally inappropriate image in a recent religious studies lesson.” “The member of staff has also related their most sincere apologies.”
“It’s important for children to learn about faiths and beliefs. This must be done in a respectful, sensitive way,” Kibble added.
Nearly two dozen protesters, mainly men in hooded tops, had gathered outside the school gates to demand resignations following the class, which reportedly took place on Monday.
The founder of a local charity called Purpose Of Life, Mohammad Sajad Hussain, said he was “deeply hurt” by the “insulting caricatures of our beloved Prophet Mohammed”.
Hussain noted that the charity was unwilling to continue its work with the school until the teacher was “permanently dismissed”.
Nonetheless, the National Secular Society described the protest as an “attempt to impose an Islamic blasphemy taboo on a school”.
There was no immediate comment from the British government.
In 2019, Muslim parents held demonstrations at a primary school in the central city of Birmingham after it held lessons incorporating transgender issues and same-sex relationships.