A cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad — this time, its use in a British classroom — is as soon as once more stoking anger and nationwide debates in regards to the limits of tolerance, free speech and schooling.
The instructor who confirmed the cartoon to college students this week has obtained loss of life threats and is below police safety, officers mentioned — echoes of the lethal assaults on the French magazine Charlie Hebdo and on a French teacher last year for having proven comparable cartoons.
Loud however nonviolent protesters blocked entry to the college and demanded the dismissal of the instructor at Batley Grammar College in West Yorkshire, in northern England, calling the incident an instance of bigotry. Many Muslims take into account any bodily depiction of Muhammad to be blasphemous.
On Thursday the college, close to Leeds, suspended the instructor — who supporters mentioned had used the picture in a lesson about faith and free expression. The varsity mentioned in an announcement that “we want to supply a honest and full apology.” It mentioned it had eliminated the offending materials, which it didn’t describe, however some protesters mentioned it was a number of of the cartoons printed by Charlie Hebdo.
The instructor has not been formally recognized, although some individuals angered by way of the cartoon have circulated the individual’s identify.
The varsity’s response prompted a backlash from individuals, together with British political and media figures, who accused it of getting caved to intimidation by a minority that desires to impose its non secular requirements on the secular establishments of the entire society. Others mentioned the instructor had used poor judgment however they deplored threats of violence.
One of many extra nuanced responses got here from Sayeeda Warsi, a former authorities minister and Conservative Get together chairwoman who sits within the Home of Lords, and is a Muslim of Pakistani descent.
Islamophobia is an actual drawback in Britain, she wrote in a Twitter thread, and “the college ought to ask whether or not the problem of blasphemy may have been taught in a greater method that didn’t necessitate the usage of cartoons depicting Muslims sporting bomb turbans.”
On the identical time, she mentioned the instructor “shouldn’t be named, nor hounded,” and added, “I urge the small however noisy group of protesters to settle down & go house. There are higher methods to benefit from the good climate.”
And in additional scabrous phrases, she suggested anti-Muslim “commentators, media retailers, twitter trolls, politicos,” to not be so anticipating “a ‘them Muslims’ row.”