MEND PRESS RELEASE: Use of Islamophobic caricature of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) at Batley Grammar School – 26th March 2021
Friday March 26 2021
On Monday 22 March 2021, during a year 9 religious studies class, the topic of blasphemy was taught at Batley Grammar School in which an Islamophobic caricature of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) illustrated by French publication, Charlie Hebdo, was displayed. The caricature entails an extremely offensive cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) with a bomb in his turban and the kalima (the Islamic declaration of faith) written on it.
MEND’s Islamophobia Response Unit (IRU) have been supporting concerned parents to engage directly with the school throughout the complaints process.
However, recent days have seen protests and intense media frenzy surrounding the children, staff, school, and parents.
This has also been accompanied by the releasing of the teacher’s name on social media. MEND condemns these actions unequivocally and calls for consideration of the safety of the teacher in question.
As a result of MEND’s IRU support and in response to the parents’ concerns, initial actions taken by the school include:
- An unequivocal and sincere apology from the school and staff member involved,
- Assurances to remove this resource from the religious studies materials,
- Announcing a formal review of the religious studies curriculum to remove any other inappropriate resources or statements,
- An assurance to work with communities moving forward,
- And the suspension of the staff member involved, pending an independent formal investigation.
The IRU is continuing to assist parents in this matter to achieve further positive outcomes, including:
- A review of the whole curriculum and staff training process to ensure this does not occur again,
- And ensuring that the school share findings of the investigation with concerned parents, local community, and concerned individuals.
MEND’s spokesperson has stated: “MEND supports the right to peaceful protest but categorically condemns any threats to the staff or school. Freedom of speech should never be prioritised over the safeguarding and wellbeing of students, and this must be reflected within teaching materials and classroom practice. MEND’s Islamophobia Response Unit will continue to work and support both the parents and the school in following due process and ensuring a harmonious resolution.”