Teacher tells father of fears for his life over Prophet Muhammad row
‘My son fears he will be murdered’: Father of blasphemy row RE teacher says he can never return to his old life after death threats over Prophet Muhammad lesson – and says school has thrown him under a bus
- Batley Grammar School RE teacher sparked outrage among Muslim parents when he allegedly showed pupils a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad
- Crowds of angry Muslims gathered at the school gates last week as the teacher was suspended and the school was shut down before Easter
- Headteacher Gary Kibble apologised to parents for the ‘inappropriate’ use of the cartoons, taken from the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo
- But now the teacher’s father has slammed the school and insisted the lesson was authorised by the school as part of the curriculum
- The teacher himself has told his father he will never feel comfortable setting foot in Batley or the classroom again after gangs of men went to his home
The father of the RE teacher at the centre of a blasphemy row after allegedly showing students a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad fears says his son fears he will be murdered and will never be able to return to his old life.
The teacher, in his 20s, who is not being named, has gone into hiding with his partner after receiving death threats.
Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, his father said: ‘My son keeps breaking down crying and says that it’s all over for him.
He is worried that he and his family are all going to be killed.
‘He knows that he’s not going to be able to return to work or live in Batley. 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.
‘When he starts speaking, he just breaks down and cries. He’s become an emotional wreck.
‘He feels that everything is broken and to be honest, it’s hard to console him at the moment because that is the truth.’
It prompted a wave of protests last week with those taking part in a prayer outside the school in Batley, West Yorkshire. The school was shut down and the unnamed teacher was suspended
The teacher also criticised Batley Grammar School for its handling of the incident.
In the immediate aftermath, the school suspended him and Headteacher Gary Kibble apologised to parents for the ‘inappropriate’ use of the cartoons, taken from the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.
However, his father fumed: ‘The school has thrown my son under a bus. The lesson that he delivered in which the picture of the Prophet Muhammad was shown was part of the curriculum, it had been approved by the school. Other teachers have done exactly the same thing.
‘So why is my son being victimised like this? The school should have come out fighting for him and made it clear to the protestors that if offence was caused, then it was not my son’s fault. It was the school’s policy to show this picture, it wasn’t an individual decision made by him.’
He revealed that a CCTV camera had been set up to monitor his son’s home after neighbours reported gangs of young men arriving at the property to look for him.
His father said: ‘Even if he gets his job back, how can he possibly return to Batley Grammar School? It will be far too risky. And how will he be able to walk around the town with his kids, doing normal things knowing that he could be killed?
‘Sadly, his life here in Batley is over and it’s very daunting for him to think about starting somewhere else afresh.’
The teacher’s mother has also gone into hiding following fears that other members of the family may also be attacked and is currently not staying at her marital home in Batley.
Protesters spoke to the Press during demonstrations at the school gates during the furore
He said: ‘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 revealed that a CCTV camera is also being set up at his home and that police officers have also visited to provide advice on how he and his wife can keep themselves safe.
Referring to the protestors that gathered outside Batley Grammar School, he said: ‘This issue obviously means a lot to them and I can understand that.
‘But 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. That should be the end of the matter and my son should be allowed to get on with his life.’
He described his son as a ‘stand up’ Yorkshireman who had worked hard throughout his life, holding down a job at a local supermarket to help him pay his way through university, where he studied Religious Education.
The father said: ‘He balanced studying, bringing up kids and working in a local Tesco and has achieved a lot in his life. I can’t really fault him, he’s a fantastic son and a role model dad.’
He said that as a youngster his son was a keen amateur rugby player at Dewsbury Celtic Rugby League Club and is also a passionate supporter of Batley Rugby League Club, where he holds a season ticket.
He added: ‘He’s just a normal Yorkshire lad who loves his rugby and looks after his family. I’m very proud of him and it breaks my heart to see him so broken.’
The incident sent shockwaves around the Yorkshire school last week – but Muslim community leaders have now called on protests to stop.
Community leaders were concerned that with children, having had their education disputed over the past year due to Covid, they faced yet more missed lessons after the school was shut early for the Easter holidays.
A petition in support of him keeping his job has been signed by 64,000 people.
Now, leaders of nearby mosques revealed they have urged people to stay away from the gates after the school said it would carry out a formal investigation.