Ricky Gervais faces backlash over Prophet Muhammad cartoon comments

Ricky Gervais faces backlash over Prophet Muhammad cartoon row comments
2 min read
27 March, 2021
The comedian has joined the row over a schoolteacher who was suspended for showing his class a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad.
English comedian and actor Ricky Gervais joined the row over Batley Grammar School [Getty]
English comedian and actor Ricky Gervais has joined the row over a UK schoolteacher who this week showed his class a controversial cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad, which sparked an outrage among the local Muslim community.

Parents complained that the controversial image, which children at the Batley Grammer School in West Yorkshire were shown, was taken from the French magazine Charlie Hebdo, which has often produced offensive content on Muslims and Islam.

The teacher was suspended on Thursday and has since apologised, while the school also offered an "unequivocal" apology.

Gervais has slammed the school's decision, claiming it was a form of "censorship" of free speech. He tweeted on Friday "Blasphemy? F***ing Blasphemy? It's 2021 for f***s sake. What next? People being punished for insulting unicorns?"

The comedian faced backlash over the tweet, with many accusing him of Islamophobia.

"Is a school the right place to be poking fun at religion members of which are suffering from horrible Islamophobia?" one Twitter user said.

"I'm an atheist and think free speech is incredibly important. But for me, this issue isn't about the religious element. It's the fact that he is a teacher and unnecessarily did something which he knew would upset some of the children in his class," another Twitter user added.

Read also: Protest sparks over offensive Prophet Mohammed cartoons at UK school

Crowds of protestors gathered outside the school for a third day running on Saturday "to show the country Islamophobia won’t be tolerated". Police have also been at the scene.

In its apology, Batley Grammer School said the teacher had used "a totally inappropriate resource in a recent religious studies lesson".

"We have immediately withdrawn teaching on this part of the course and we are reviewing how we go forward with the support of all the communities represented in our school," the school said.

"It is important for children to learn about faith and beliefs, but this must be done in a sensitive way."

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