A teacher who feared for his life after showing students a cartoon of the prophet Mohammed during a RE class has been given a new identity, but is still in hiding almost two years later, MailOnline can reveal.
The teacher, who is in his late 20s, showed the controversial image to children at Batley Grammar School in West Yorkshire in March 2021, sparking days of heated protests from parents and activists at the school gates.
He was immediately forced to flee his housing association home in Batley with his partner and four young children and has since lived in an undisclosed location outside the Yorkshire region. He also got a new identity.
A teacher who feared for his life after showing students a cartoon of the prophet Mohammed during a RE class has been given a new identity but is still in hiding almost two years later. Pictured: Protesters outside Batley Grammar School in March 2021
The teacher, who is in his late 20s, showed the controversial image to children at Batley Grammar School in West Yorkshire in March 2021. The photo shows protesters outside the school
A family source told MailOnline: ‘He lives far away from the Batley area and has taken on a new identity. He’s slowly trying to rebuild his life, but it hasn’t been easy.
“The whole family has been through a very difficult time. He got in trouble for what happened, and it could have cost him his life. It’s better he’s out of this area and the less people know the better.’
The family source declined to reveal whether the teacher, who was head of RE at Batley Grammar, will remain in the teaching profession.
Yunus Lunat, a prominent local lawyer who acted as a spokesperson for Muslim parents at the time of the incident, said: ‘The teacher is living a new life somewhere far away under a different identity. But even if he came back to Batley, I can assure you his life would not be in danger.
“We have all moved on, everything is calm and settled after the initial turmoil. Too bad the teacher involved didn’t have the confidence to allow a mediated return to work. That’s what the community wanted to achieve, but it was drowned out by the media and political madness.’
Displaying images of the Prophet Muhammad is strictly prohibited in Islam.
What further infuriated many Muslim parents and students was that the image shown in the classroom came from the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which was the target of a deadly mass shooting in 2015 after publishing a cartoon of the prophet Muhammad.
A former neighbor of the teacher in Batley said: ‘He was a wonderful, caring man and they were a lovely family. We miss them very much as they were a big part of this community.
“He sent Eid cards to all his Muslim neighbors and celebrated the festival with us. That’s what this says, because he was very considerate to our culture and beliefs. It is impossible that he would have deliberately wanted to insult Muslims.’
The neighbor revealed that she has not been able to speak to the teacher or his partner since the incident because their mobile numbers have changed and they are no longer on social media.
He was immediately forced to flee his housing association home in Batley with his partner and four young children and has since lived in an undisclosed location outside the Yorkshire region and has been given a new identity. Pictured: Batley Grammar School
The family source declined to reveal whether the teacher, who was head of RE at Batley Grammar, will remain in the teaching profession. Pictured: People gather outside the gates of Batley Grammar School in March 2021
After the cartoon was initially shown in class, the teacher was suspended. But in May 2021, he was acquitted following an independent external investigation into whether he had committed an offense intentionally. He was told he could get his job back.
Dr. Yasmin Zia, a governor of Batley Grammar School said: ‘He didn’t want to come back and is no longer in school. We have no contact with him, we don’t know where he is, but as far as we know he lives under a different name somewhere in the UK.’
Representatives of the Muslim community in Batley insisted the matter was resolved, but they could understand the teacher’s motives for leaving the area and taking on a new identity.
Akooji Baadat, an official at the Snowdon Street Mosque in Batley, said: ‘Both sides have learned lessons from this painful incident. The community has forgiven this teacher, we have nothing against him, and he should not worry if he were to return to Batley.
“But when something like this happens, there is always the danger of retaliation. It’s cooled down, we’ve all moved on and the teacher doesn’t have to live in fear, but you never know.’
Memories of the Batley incident have recently been revived in the area after it emerged last week that four boys at a school in nearby Wakefield had been suspended for ‘accidentally’ dropping a copy of the Quran.
West Yorkshire Police recorded a ‘hate incident’ at Kettlethorpe High School after pupils caused ‘minor damage’ to a copy of the Quran when it fell to the floor.
A boy, who is 14 and autistic, was told by friends to turn in a copy of the holy book as a forfeiture for loss to the video game Call Of Duty.
Officers investigating the incident found that only “minor damage” had been done to the Quran during the prank and no crime had been committed. It was registered as a “non-criminal hate incident,” a designation police use to record incidents that do not meet the criminal threshold.
False rumors that the Quran had been burned or destroyed raised concern among Muslim parents and community leaders, who discussed the incident with police and the headmaster at a hastily called meeting at the local mosque.
In a video widely shared on social media, the 14-year-old’s mother was filmed apologizing to members of the local community for the damage, while revealing that he had been “petrified” by death threats.
She said, “He had no malicious intent, but he’s a very, very silly 14-year-old boy.”