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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Debate rages over new report highlighting the dangers of extremism

A new report from Dame Sara Khan, appointed by the Prime Minister as Independent Advisor to the UK Government for Social Cohesion and Resilience, has met with strong opposition from the school involved.

In the report it talks of the case, in March 2021 where a teacher was forced into hiding after showing a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad in class. Three years later the teacher still cannot work for fear of his life and suffers from post – traumatic stress disorder.

The overall aim of the independent review was to examine threats to social cohesion and democratic resilience in the UK.

The report states:

“Having delivered an educational lesson on promoting fundamental British Values, he faced an online and offline campaign of intimidation and abuse. Threats and harassment included incitement to violence against both him and his family.”

This outrage was caused due to the Islamic belief that neither Allah or Muhammad can be captured by an image by human hand, and therefore doing so is an insult to the Muslim faith.

There were also protests outside the Batley School in Kirklees, West Yorkshire. Although the school immediately apologised, the teacher was suspended, and the use of the image was proven to start a class debate, not to provoke or offend, the incident remains a sore issue both for those offended and those in support of the teacher.

The report points to a lack of support for the teacher:

“Victims of freedom – restricting harassment suffer devastating impacts yet are often not treated as victims or offered the support they need. The impact on the religious studies teacher at Batley Grammar School provides a harrowing example.”

Dame Sarah Khan has also said the incident at the Batley School was, “Totally and utterly unacceptable” and warned that the increase in hate crimes could lead to erosion of basic freedoms.

The report also warned of a wider cultural problem of “self-appointed community faith leaders aggressively interfering in teaching” at some Batley schools.

The school in question has responded to accusations that it did not provide adequate support for the teacher in a letter to parents from the school, it states that they find the conclusions of the report, ‘disappointing’.

“This disappointment is because we do not recognise so much of what is in it, because we do not recognise the description of what’s happened, and because we do not recognise the characterisation of the school and our community.”

The school has also stated that it provided counselling and support for the teacher, and stated that, “We delivered on our responsibilities, and we followed due processes”.

There has been substantial sympathy and support for the teacher – even extending to a close friend setting up a GoFundMe page, entitled, ‘Support for Batley Grammar School Teacher’. The campaign has drawn considerable support, so far it has raised £101,082 towards a £125,000 target.

Local MP Kim Leadbeater, commented:

“I have made it very clear that the demonstrations outside the school and the teacher having been forced into hiding is completely unacceptable,”

 

“There can be absolutely no excuse for the intimidation and threats against him.”

 

 

 

 

 

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