LONDON: The headteacher of a school in Yorkshire, England, has apologized to parents who protested after a teacher used cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad as teaching material.
It is prohibited in Islam to depict the Prophet Muhammad, the religion’s most revered figure. Batley Grammar School’s headteacher Gary Kibble apologized to parents for the use of the cartoons, which were taken from French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, during a religious studies lesson earlier this week.
In an email to parents, Kibble said: “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.”
Parents organized protests on social media after learning that the material had been shown to students.
The start of the school day was delayed to 10 a.m. and police were stationed outside as a reaction to the peaceful protesters.
Footage on social media showed police reading out Kibble’s apology to protesting parents, who responded with calls for the teacher’s resignation.
Local paper the Examiner Live reported that the teacher had been suspended, though this has not been confirmed by the school.
“The school is investigating the matter using formal processes and we are grateful for the support of the local authority,” Kibble told parents at the school.
He said the images had been removed from the course content, and the entire course’s content will be reviewed for other offensive materials.
In 2015, Charlie Hebdo’s Paris office was attacked by two terrorists who claimed affiliation to Al-Qaeda and murdered 12 people, including staff cartoonists and two policemen. The offices had been previously firebombed after its depictions of the prophet.
Mufti Mohammed Amin Pandor, a local community leader who met with the school’s leadership, told protesters that the school understood that what had happened was “totally unacceptable.”
He added: “We’ve asked for an investigation, an independent investigation, and we’ve asked also for some of us to get on the investigation’s panel. That is what we’ve asked for. Whether they do it or not, we can’t force them. We’re going to work with the school to ensure that in the future things like this don’t happen.”