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Teacher dismissed for showing Muhammad caricature in class is reinstated
The teacher who was temporarily dismissed from his position at a Molenbeek municipal school after he showed his 10-year-old students a naked caricature of the prophet Muhammad has been reinstated.
The teacher was suspended and disciplinary proceedings were opened against him at the end of October due to complaints from a parent of one of the students. He had shown the pupils of his Grade 5 class a cartoon signed by a cartoonist from the French magazine Charlie Hebdo entitled "A Star Is Born". It shows the Prophet Muhammad naked on all fours.
The teacher himself acknowledged that he made a mistake by showing that drawing, said a spokesperson for mayor Catherine Moureaux. "We never wanted to restrict free speech,” the spokesperson said. “It has never been about the caricature of Muhammad for us, but the obscene nature of the images. It was inappropriate to show a naked cartoon to 10-year-olds."
"We have educational materials at our disposal, a specific dossier that was created after the attacks and which allows us to address the issue of freedom of expression and violent radicalism," he added
The incident occurred two weeks after the murder of Samuel Paty, a French middle-school teacher, in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, a suburb of Paris. Paty was killed and beheaded by an Islamist terrorist. During a class on freedom of expression, Paty had shown his students Charlie Hebdo's 2012 cartoons depicting the Islamic prophet Muhammad. One of the cartoons portrays Muhammad naked with his genitals exposed.
From now on, the Molenbeek teacher will be accompanied by the pedagogical team of the municipality and the mobile teams of the French community.
While he is happy to be reinstated, there are psychological consequences for the teacher, his legal counsel admitted. “He has been demolished,” the lawyer said. "You can't imagine the anger... This teacher did his job with heart and passion, and overnight he was told that he could no longer teach, and he was left out in the cold."