Rotterdam teacher in hiding after online threats in dispute over ‘blasphemous’ cartoon

From Dutch News

Police in Rotterdam are investigating online threats made against a teacher who had hung a cartoon commenting on the attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in January 2015 on his classroom notice board. According to the NRC, the drawing had hung on a classroom notice board for some five years but it was not until the school – which has Catholic roots – held a memorial for murdered French teacher Samuel Paty, that it became a contentious issue.

Sources at the Emmauscollege told the paper that the situation in the school had soured after some teachers started discussions about the cartoon of Mohammed which had led a radical Muslim to murder Paty last month. Then, the paper said, a group of girls demanded the teacher remove the picture from the notice board because, they said, it was blasphemy.

The Dutch cartoon displayed in the teacher’s classroom showed a decapitated person in a Charlie Hebdo t-shirt sticking their tongue out of their open throat at the person who beheaded them. The surprised attacker looks on holding a bloodied sword. His beard and clothes would suggest the man is intended to represent a Muslim. 

Despite the teacher’s explanation – that the cartoon was not of Mohammed but of a terrorist – the dispute continued on social media.

A student then posted a photo of the image on the internet, claiming it was ‘a cartoon of our prophet’ that the teacher must have put up as a provocation. ‘If this is not removed very quickly’ someone wrote on Instagram, ‘then we will do this differently.’ 

At the time of the girls’ complaints, the teacher explained that the cartoon did not show the Prophet Mohammed but rather a terrorist

Police told the NRC that direct threats were made against the teacher, and that they were taking them very seriously. ‘We are in close contact with the school and are taking visible and hidden security measures,’ the statement on Twitter said. The NRC says that more teachers at the school, which focuses on pre college and pre university streams, no longer feel safe and, according to its sources, the teacher in question has gone into hiding.