A cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad — this time, its use in a British classroom — is once again stoking anger and national debates about the limits of tolerance, free speech and education.
The teacher who showed the cartoon to students this week has received death threats and is under police protection, officials said — echoes of the deadly attacks on the French magazine Charlie Hebdo and on a French teacher last year for having shown similar cartoons.
Loud but nonviolent protesters blocked access to the school and demanded the dismissal of the teacher at Batley Grammar School in West Yorkshire, in northern England, calling the incident an example of bigotry. Many Muslims consider any physical depiction of Muhammad to be blasphemous.
On Thursday the school, near Leeds, suspended the teacher — who supporters said had used the image in a lesson about religion and free expression. The school said in a statement that “we would like to offer a sincere and full apology.” It said it had removed the offending material, which it did not describe, but some protesters said it was one or more of the cartoons published by Charlie Hebdo.
she wrote in a Twitter thread, and “the school should ask whether the issue of blasphemy could have been taught in a better way that didn’t necessitate the use of cartoons depicting Muslims wearing bomb turbans.”
At the same time, she said the teacher “should not be named, nor hounded,” and added, “I urge the small but noisy group of protesters to calm down & go home. There are better ways to enjoy the good weather.”