Multiple online threats over a cartoon have forced a Dutch high school teacher into hiding, reports NRC.
The threats concern a cartoon that hung in the teacher’s classroom in Rotterdam’s Emmaus College for the past five years. The cartoon by Joep Bertrams depicts a decapitated man wearing a Charlie Hebdo shirt who is sticking his tongue out at the jihadist who decapitated him.
The image hangs alongside philosophical quotes from spiritual teacher Krishnamurti, Nobel laureate and Pakistani women’s activist Malala, pictures of Socrates and Anne Frank on the classroom bulletin board.
Memorial for Samuel Paty
The threats began on Monday when the school held a memorial for the beheaded French teacher Samuel Paty, who was murdered last month by an extremist Muslim. Paty had displayed a cartoon of the prophet Muhammad during a class on free speech.
During Emmaus College’s memorial for Paty, a number of Muslim girls began to dispute the Emmaus College teacher’s cartoon. The girls believed the teacher was guilty of blasphemy and should remove the image.
The school’s teachers tried to explain to the girls that the image was a drawing of a jihadist — not the prophet Mohammed. The discussion in the classroom became heated.
Depictions of Mohammed are not explicitly prohibited in the Quran. However, many Muslims believe the teaching of Islamic scholars that the prophet should not appear in images.
Social media fans fire
The cartoon was eventually removed from the bulletin board and the girls left the classroom. However, a secretly-taken picture of the cartoon in the classroom appeared on Instagram shortly afterwards, described as “a cartoon of our prophet.”
The Instagram post becomes widely shared. One user wrote, “If this is not removed very quickly we will do this differently”. Police say that the teacher has received online threats. Authorities have launched a “substantial” digital investigation to find the senders.
After the recent attacks in France and Austria, police are taking the threats very seriously. While the students responsible for the uproar have returned the school, the threatened teacher is in hiding, and other teachers at the school no longer feel safe.
A ‘care team’ has been established at the school to talk to students. “Together we must ensure that we maintain a dialogue with each other in tolerance,” Rector Raoul Majewski tells NRC.
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