THE battle of Batley Grammar School is over. Islamist intolerance and intimidation has triumphed.
This is the only conclusion to be drawn from news that the teacher who showed depictions of Muhammad to a religious studies class, for which he was hounded into hiding, has been left too scared to resume working at the West Yorkshire school.
It is an unwelcome win for the menacing mob which protested at the school gates. In particular, it is a disheartening and undeserved victory for Purpose of Life, the rabble-rousing local Islamic ‘charity’ which incitingly identified the teacher and publicly demanded that he be ‘permanently removed from Batley Grammar School’.
Suspended in March and disowned by the school’s lily-livered head, last month the teacher was cleared of wrongdoing and given his job back. However, it did not require second sight for me previously to forecast that the petrified teacher would not return to Batley: ‘It is impossible to imagine him doing so: not only was he treated shoddily by the school, it would require enormous courage – some would say foolhardiness – to revisit the scene where the intimidating Islamists gathered to demand his dismissal.’
It was an offer he could only refuse (as have two colleagues who were also suspended for their complicity). Because as a ‘source close to the teacher’ has been quoted: ‘On paper, he’s got his job back but returning to the school is not a possibility . . . he doesn’t feel safe teaching there and genuinely fears that he could be killed.’
As well he might, because Muhammadans are not noted for their willingness to forgive and forget or let bygones be bygones. It is entirely understandable that the Batley teacher should fear the same fate as French counterpart Samuel Paty, beheaded in the street last year after Islamic fundamentalists similarly took blasphemous offence.
At this point he can hope only for a pay-off which is sufficient to enable him and his young family to rebuild their lives. But although it is now too late for anyone to fight his corner, his plight ought to be a key issue in the forthcoming Batley and Spen by-election.
In particular, the Conservative and Labour candidates vying to represent the constituency should unequivocally condemn the area’s fanatical fundamentalism which disgracefully endangered a local teacher. They should further make abundantly clear that free speech is inviolable, and that in Batley and Spen freedom of expression will in future trump the hurt feelings of intolerant Islamists.
But expect both to keep schtum. The Conservative approved by CCHQ will not dare risk the accusation of ‘Islamophobia’. Labour’s Kim Leadbeater, sister of Jo Cox and seeking to inherit the seat the murdered MP held, is already pandering to Muslim voters by promising to be a ‘strong voice for Palestinian human rights and statehood’.
Unhindered by pusillanimous politicians, the schools run by Batley Multi Academy Trust now operate a de facto blasphemy law. Despite exonerating the escaped teacher and concluding that the image of Muhammad was ‘not used with the intention of causing offence’, the governing body mollified the mob by promising no repeat: ‘The Trust is clear that is not necessary for staff to use the material in question.’
In its schools, the selection of teaching aides will now, among other things, ‘be cognisant of local context’. Presumably local sensibilities will also be a major consideration when Batley Grammar School recruits a new RE department for next term.
This week’s lesson is that in West Yorkshire, teaching ability is now less important than appeasing the Muhammadan mob.