MP condemns 'unacceptable' backlash against teacher suspended over Prophet Mohammed cartoon

Dozens of parents protested outside Batley Grammar School after an image of the Prophet Mohammed was shown to pupils. Credit: PA

A West Yorkshire MP says it is "completely unacceptable" that a teacher was forced into hiding and his family "put at risk" after he showed an image of the Prophet Mohammed during a lesson.

Batley and Spen MP Kim Leadbeater issued a statement almost a year after the man was suspended by Batley Grammar School amid protests outside the school gates.

She said: "As I have clearly said on numerous occasions, it is completely unacceptable for him to have been forced into hiding and his family put at risk."

Ms Leadbeater, who posted the statement on her website, was responding to regular questions she receives about what support she has offered to the teacher.

He sparked uproar in March 2021 after showing an image of the Prophet Mohammed – reportedly taken from the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo – to students during a religious education lesson.

Credit: PA

Protestors took to the school to demand the teacher's sacking. He was suspended and then moved into police protection after receiving death threats.

School headteacher Gary Kibble apologised at the time for a "totally inappropriate image" being shown.

But, with the situation attracting national and international headlines, there was also an outpouring of support for the teacher, with petitions demanding his reinstatement gaining tens of thousands of signatures

Kim Leadbeater was elected four months after the incident at Batley Grammar School Credit: PA

Ms Leadbeater said she had been in regular contact with the teacher since she was elected last July and regularly spoke to his union representatives – but said his family "do not want their personal circumstances to be a matter of public debate on social media".

"They just want to get on with their lives," she said.

She added: "I am keen for the teacher and his family to know that there is no time limit on my offer of help and support.

"However, I believe that it is not for me or anyone else to decide what they want or need, and as such, I will always be guided by what they feel is the best course of action."