Muhammad cartoon row: Batley teacher facing death threats is rugby-loving 'burly Yorkshire lad'


The RE teacher who sparked a blasphemy protest at his school’s gates after allegedly showing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad to students is a ‘burly Yorkshire lad’ who recently wrote about his love for the job.

The amateur rugby player, a white man is in his late 20s, had trained to teach in the mid-2010s after going to university in the north of England, and lives in the area close to his Batley school with his partner.

MailOnline revealed today how they were rushed from their West Yorkshire home yesterday morning in a mystery black car, just before the school apologised to parents.

In an article about life as a trainee teacher, he wrote: ‘Teaching is a fantastic profession. One which I cannot wait to start.’ 

He added it was a vocation to help students, saying: ‘You also teach them about life’. 

One neighbour called him a ‘nice man’, while another called him a ‘good, honest, burly Yorkshire lad’ who ‘always had a smile for us’.  

The RE teacher facing death threats and protests at his Batley school (pictured today) is a 'burly Yorkshire lad' who recently wrote about his love for the job

The RE teacher facing death threats and protests at his Batley school (pictured today) is a ‘burly Yorkshire lad’ who recently wrote about his love for the job

Batley Grammar School headteacher Gary Kibble wrote to parents to confirm the issues were being investigated, saying the lesson was 'completely inappropriate'

Batley Grammar School headteacher Gary Kibble wrote to parents to confirm the issues were being investigated, saying the lesson was ‘completely inappropriate’

More than 50 Muslim protesters turned up at the school today, forcing the headteacher to keep children at home. 

None of the demonstrators MailOnline spoke to this morning were parents of children at the school, and had travelled to Batley from Dewsbury, Bradford and Leeds to join a smaller group of locals  social media and WhatsApp groups.  

Teacher facing death threats for ‘showing Prophet Muhammad cartoons to students’ was whisked away from home after police advice

The teacher suspended by Batley Grammar School was rushed from his home with his girlfriend and their family after receiving death threats.

His neighbour, who is concerned for her own safety after protesters published his name online, has told MailOnline that he left his home at 9.30am yesterday and was rushed into a black vehicle – likely to be an unmarked police car. 

She added: ‘I saw him and his family leaving in a rush yesterday. They got into a black car. A car which belongs to them is still at the front. They seemed in a hurry and they haven’t come back last night and are not here today. I have phoned the police myself because I am worried in case there is any trouble as I live above them and I have got a baby. I can’t go and stay with my parents because of Covid.’ 

Education secretary Gavin Williamson has condemned the protests and said schools must be free to show ‘challenging or controversial’ materials. Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said it was ‘very disturbing’that the teacher has been forced into hiding. 

His neighbour, who is concerned for her own safety after protesters published his name online, has told MailOnline that he left his home at 9.30am yesterday and was rushed into a black vehicle – likely to be an unmarked police car. 

She added: ‘I saw him and his family leaving in a rush yesterday. They got into a black car. A car which belongs to them is still at the front. They seemed in a hurry and they haven’t come back last night and are not here today. I have phoned the police myself because I am worried in case there is any trouble as I live above them and I have got a baby. I can’t go and stay with my parents because of Covid.’ 

Batley Grammar School was closed today after more than 50 Muslims returned to demand the sacking of a RE teacher. The protesters outside the school dispersed after a couple of hours this morning as the rain fell. 

Muslim parent who has a daughter at Batley Grammar School today came out in support of the suspended teacher, signing a petition launched by students. 

The father, Mohammed J, wrote a message online saying: ‘ I would like to convey my support for the school and also the teacher concerned. He has taught my daughter and she speaks very highly of him and I believe he has provided a strong platform for my daughter to understand and view RE within the context of critical discourse.

‘I would not hesitate to see him teach my daughter again. I am therefore confident that the teacher concerned did not mean any offence and i hope following an investigation he returns to his role at the school.’

Today more Muslim protesters gathered at the gates  of Batley Grammar School and were spoken to police as the teacher was suspended from his job and the headteacher issued a humbling apology and shut the school

A student turned up at the gates for school only to be told the headteacher had shut it down for the day due to the ongoing protests

A student turned up at the gates for school only to be told the headteacher had shut it down for the day due to the ongoing protests

One of the protesters watches a police officer at the gate of the West Yorkshire school where a young teacher was accused of blasphemy

One of the protesters watches a police officer at the gate of the West Yorkshire school where a young teacher was accused of blasphemy

Protesters told MailOnline that the teacher has insulted 2billion Muslims around the world and must be sacked immediately

Protesters told MailOnline that the teacher has insulted 2billion Muslims around the world and must be sacked immediately

The protesters have included local faith leaders from across Yorkshire who are calling for the school to take action now

The protesters have included local faith leaders from across Yorkshire who are calling for the school to take action now

The group outside the gates insist that they want a peaceful protest and will remain until the teacher has been fired

The group outside the gates insist that they want a peaceful protest and will remain until the teacher has been fired

The protesters, all Muslim men, are angry that the RE teacher allegedly showed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad to students

The protesters, all Muslim men, are angry that the RE teacher allegedly showed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad to students

A man amongst the 50 protesters admitted he had posted the teacher's name on Facebook with a letter condemning - but told Mail Online he had done nothing wrong

A man amongst the 50 protesters admitted he had posted the teacher’s name on Facebook with a letter condemning – but told Mail Online he had done nothing wrong

But protesters outside the school again accused him of offending 2billion Muslims around the globe, arguing he should have been dismissed immediately.  

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has condemned the death threats.

He said: ‘It is never acceptable to threaten or intimidate teachers. We encourage dialogue between parents and schools when issues emerge. However, the nature of protest we have seen, including issuing threats and in violation of coronavirus restrictions are completely unacceptable and must be brought to an end.

Students launch petition defending suspended RE teacher 

A petition urging the headteacher to ‘keep’ the under fire teacher at  Batley Grammar School’ has been launched online.   

The campaign has also been backed by Muslim parents with children at the school, who say he is a good teacher. 

One, Mohammed J, wrote a message online saying: ‘ I would like to convey my support for the school and also the teacher concerned. He has taught my daughter and she speaks very highly of him and I believe he has provided a strong platform for my daughter to understand and view RE within the context of critical discourse.

‘I would not hesitate to see him teach my daughter again. I am therefore confident that the teacher concerned did not mean any offence and i hope following an investigation he returns to his role at the school.’

‘Schools are free to include a full range of issues, ideas and materials in their curriculum, including where they are challenging or controversial, subject to their obligations to ensure political balance. They must balance this with the need to promote respect and tolerance between people of different faiths and beliefs, including in deciding which materials to use in the classroom.’

The school’s headteacher took a late decision to keep pupils away and put them on online studies today due to the row. Private security guards have also been called to the school to monitor the protest, while police liaison officers trained to deal with protests and community relations were also at the gates. Some children were turned away this morning because the closure was at the 11th hour.

The unnamed teacher had spoken of his experiences as a trainee teacher, saying recently how it was a ‘fantastic’ profession that he ‘could not wait’ to begin so he could ‘teach students about life’, The Telegraph reported.  

Today more Muslim protesters gathered at the gates and were spoken to by police for the second day after the unnamed teacher was suspended and the headteacher issued a humbling apology to parents at the state school, where almost three-quarters of pupils are from minority ethnic groups.

It is not known if all the group of around 50 men outside this morning were parents, with some likely to be from local mosques, including from nearby Leeds and Dewsbury.

Mohammed Hussain of the ‘Purpose of Life’ group has admitted to MailOnline that he shared teacher’s name on social media with a letter condemning him. 

He said: ‘His name was already widely available in Internet posts and it was going around. I didn’t make public his name first. It was not our intention to cause any danger to him. In fact we asked for only peaceful protest. We don’t want people breaking the law. But we do feel that if this had been something that offended the LGBT community or something that was anti-Semitic, he would’ve been sacked on the spot.

‘His resignation should be forthcoming immediately. He has insulted 2billion Muslims on the planet. We cannot stand for that. We have to make our voices heard on it.’ 

One man at the gates, who only wanted to be named as Muhammed, said: ‘It’s a very sensitive topic – it’s about our prophet. Somebody has disrespected our prophet.

‘We don’t disrespect anybody else’s religious beliefs. We just want to create awareness that this is wrong. Don’t do it – it’s as simple as that.

‘It’s a very peaceful protest today and we’ll keep it like that.

‘We want the individual involved to be suspended on a permanent basis – not a temporary basis. We’d be very disappointed (if the teacher isn’t sacked).’

He then added that they will come to the school gates every day until the teacher is sacked. 

The Communities Secretary said protests outside a school in West Yorkshire where a teacher was suspended for reportedly showing pupils a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad were ‘not right’.  

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