60,000 Sign Petition Demanding Teacher Suspended for Showing Cartoon of Prophet Muhammad to Be Reinstated

More than 60,000 have signed a petition to reinstate a teacher at the Batley Grammar School in West Yorkshire, England, that was previously suspended for showing a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad.

The petition, which was posted on Change.org, has received 63,485 signatures as of 1:46 p.m. EDT on Monday.

"The RS Teacher was trying to educate students about racism and blasphemy. He warned the students before showing the images and he had the intent to educate them. He does not deserve such large repercussions," the petition's creator, who identified themself as a student of Batley Grammar School wrote in the description. "He is not racist and did not support the Islamophobic cartoons in any manner. This has got out of hand and due to this, students have missed out on lessons because of 'peaceful' protestors."

The release the petition's signature count comes shortly after the Batley Grammar School teacher was suspended by the school for allegedly showing a cartoon depicting Muhammad that was taken from the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, according to Yorkshire Live News.

Despite the support for the teacher's reinstatement in the petition, many have called for the teacher to remain suspended and have criticized the school for its handling of the situation. Many gathered to protest outside the school on Thursday and Friday last week, calling for the teacher to remain suspended.

Amid the protests, Batley Grammar School's headteacher Gary Kibble issued a statement on the matter.

Batley Grammar School
People gather outside the gates of Batley Grammar School, after a teacher was suspended for showing an image of the Prophet Muhammad in class, on March 26, in Batley, England. The school issued an apology yesterday and said the teacher had been suspended. A petition in support of the teacher was posted on Change.org; it had received 63,485 signatures as of 1:46 p.m. EDT on Monday. Christopher Furlong/Getty

"The school unequivocally apologizes for using a totally inappropriate image in a recent religious studies lesson. It should not have been used. The member of the staff has also relayed their most sincere apologies," Kibble said. "We have immediately withdrawn teaching on this part of the course, and we're reviewing how we go forward with the support of all our communities represented in our school."

He continued, "It's important for children to learn about faiths and beliefs but this must be done in a respectful and sensitive way."

 Kibble also noted in his statement that there is currently an independent investigation into the matter, while the teacher remains suspended.

According to the BBC, a department of education spokesperson also issued a statement on the matter, saying, "It is never acceptable to threaten or intimidate teachers."

"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," the statement said according to BBC. "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."

Newsweek reached out to Batley Grammar School for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.