A teacher who showed pupils a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad in a religious studies class is in fear of his life, his father has said.
The 29-year-old’s mother has also gone into hiding amid growing concerns the wider family may be targeted by extremists enraged that he showed the image to his students at Batley Grammar School in West Yorkshire.
“My son keeps breaking down crying and says that it’s all over for him,” his father said. “He is worried that he and his family are all going to be killed.
Mass protests have been held outside the school since it emerged the teacher used the caricature – thought to be and image from French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo – as part of a lesson looking at blasphemy last Monday. “He should never teach again,” one demonstrator, 20-year-old Hash Hash, told The Independent on Friday. “We’ll keep coming here until he is gone.”
Despite appealing for calm, community groups and local leaders have noticeably stopped short of calling for the protests to stop.
Now, the teacher’s father has spoken about the full impact the episode is having on the whole family.
“My son…knows that he’s not going to be able to return to work or live in Batley,” he told the Daily Mail. “It’s just going to be too dangerous for him and his family.
“Look what happened to the teacher in France who was killed for doing the same thing. Eventually they will get my son and he knows this. His whole world has been turned upside down. He's devastated and crushed.”
Teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded in Paris in October after showing his class the same image from Charlie Hebdo. His killer, 18-year-old Abdullakh Anzorov, was shot dead by police shortly afterwards.
The Batley teacher’s father added: “My wife is petrified that we'll also be targeted and has become a bag of nerves since all this happened. She's unable to stay in our home. This whole incident has had a devastating impact on us, and we are all scared about the situation we find ourselves in.'
He added that CCTV cameras are being set up at his home and that police officers have visited to provide advice on staying safe.
“The school and my son have issued a full apology, and both have said that they won't allow the same thing to happen again,” he said. “That should be the end of the matter and my son should be allowed to get on with his life.”
His words came as a petition supporting the teacher approached 70,000 signatures, while the former chief inspector of Ofsted Sir Michael Wilshaw weighed into the debate saying that a “firm line” had to be taken to defend free speech in schools.
Sir Michael said: “There’s no excuse for the sort of demonstrations we’ve seen outside the school. It does raise a whole issue of the sort of society we are and the value that we put on free speech. People need to protect that.”
Speaking to the i newspaper, he added: ““It [protesting] intimidates both children and staff. What it does – and I’ve had experience of this – is encourages the more radical, the more extreme elements in the community to come from all over the country to demonstrate, and that’s not a good thing.”
Batley Grammar itself – which has some 850 pupils aged between four and 16 – has now broken up for Easter.
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