Islamic Charity ‘Inflamed Tensions’ by Doxxing Mohammed Cartoon Teacher, Watchdog Rules

BATLEY, ENGLAND - MARCH 26: 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, 2021 in Batley, England. A few dozen people, including parents of students, gathered outside the school gates yesterday …
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

The Charity Commission has accused an Islamic charity which doxxed a British teacher who showed his class a caricature of the Muslim prophet Mohammed of inflaming tensions and risking the safety of the teacher.

In March, a teacher at the Batley Grammar School in the North of England was forced into hiding after the local Islamic charity Purpose for Life shared his identity online, saying at the time that the teacher had committed an act of “terrorism” by “insulting Islam“ by showing his class a caricature of Mohammed from the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo during a lesson on blasphemy.

Following complaints lodged by free speech campaigners, the Charity Commission launched an investigation into the Islamic charity. After months of deliberation, the watchdog issued a formal warning on Friday to Purpose for Life under section 75A of the 2011 Charities Act, The Telegraph reported.

The commission found by releasing the name of the teacher, the Islamic charity failed to account for the “foreseeable risk to the person’s safety” and that the message “was written in such a way as to be likely to inflame existing tensions within the local community”.

The notice said that the regulator “considers that a breach of trust and/or duty and/or misconduct and/or mismanagement has been committed in connection with the charity”. The warning will be attached to the charity’s register entry for at least one year.

The Charity Commission threatened the Islamic charity with “further regulator action” if it failed to make reforms to its operation, including implementing “effective written oversight and/or control mechanisms for the charity’s social media channels”, and for the leaders of the charity to familiarise themselves with data protection law.

The general secretary of the Free Speech Union, Toby Young — who launched the initial complaint against Purpose for Life — welcomed the ruling from the watchdog.

Mr Young said: “I welcome the action the Charity Commission has taken: naming the teacher at Batley Grammar School on Twitter was an irresponsible thing to do, given that a French teacher embroiled in a similar row had been beheaded by an Islamist terrorist the year before.

“Teachers should be free to discuss controversial topics without having to worry that they will be doxxed by activists who take a particular aide in those controversies and their lives put in danger.”

The school’s trustees had launched an independent investigation into the teacher, who had been suspended from his post, eventually clearing him of any wrongdoing. Though the investigation found that the teacher “genuinely believed that using the image had an educational purpose and benefit” and therefore did nothing wrong, it is unlikely that he will be able to return to his job, as he and his young family remain in hiding over safety concerns.

The school had also said it would not be using the image of the Islamic prophet again.

In April, the teacher’s father accused the school of throwing his son “under a bus” and relayed fears that he could suffer a similar fate to Samuel Paty, a French teacher who was beheaded by a Muslim refugee in response to showing portrayals of Mohammed during a free speech lesson.

“He knows that he’s not going to be able to return to work or live in Batley. It’s just going to be too dangerous for him and his family,” the teacher’s father said.

“Look what happened to the teacher in France who was killed for doing the same thing. Eventually, they will get my son and he knows this.”

Follow Kurt ZIndulka on Twitter at @KurtZindulka

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