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 training.
The instructor who confirmed the cartoon to college students this week has obtained loss of life threats and is below police safety, officers stated — echoes of the lethal assaults on the French journal Charlie Hebdo and on a French instructor final 12 months for having proven related cartoons.
Loud however nonviolent protesters blocked entry to the college and demanded the dismissal of the instructor at Batley Grammar Faculty 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 stated had used the picture in a lesson about faith and free expression. The varsity stated in an announcement that “we want to provide a honest and full apology.” It stated it had eliminated the offending materials, which it didn’t describe, however some protesters stated it was a number of of the cartoons printed by Charlie Hebdo.
The instructor has not been formally recognized, although some folks angered by way of the cartoon have circulated the particular person’s identify.
The varsity’s response prompted a backlash from folks, together with British political and media figures, who accused it of getting caved to intimidation by a minority that wishes to impose its spiritual requirements on the secular establishments of the entire society. Others stated 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 Celebration chairwoman who sits within the Home of Lords, and is a Muslim of Pakistani descent.
Islamophobia is an actual downside 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 approach that didn’t necessitate using cartoons depicting Muslims sporting bomb turbans.”
On the similar time, she stated 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.”