Dunstable school apologises after depicting Prophet Muhammad as Osama bin Laden

A school in Dunstable has apologised and suspended a teacher after 5Pillars revealed that Osama bin Laden’s photo was used to depict the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in a Religious Education class.

The All Saints Academy Church of England secondary school in Bedfordshire has launched an investigation into the incident after complaints from a concern student and members of the public.

In a statement on social media a school spokesperson said: “We are fully aware of a totally inappropriate resource that was used by a teacher during an RS lesson. All Saints Academy recognises the deep hurt and distress that has been caused to the Muslim community, and many other people of faith, by the totally inappropriate images that were used as part of a recent RS lesson. Not only was it offensive to attempt to portray an image of the Prophet Muhammad, but the image that was used was that of Osama Bin Laden, a terrorist leader, which further added to the deep insult.

“The academy reiterates its unreserved and sincere apology for the distress this episode has caused. In terms of actions taken, we are happy to share the following information. Upon learning about this incident from a concerned student, the member of staff was immediately suspended by the Principal pending a detailed and swift investigation which will follow the academy’s disciplinary procedures. It would be against the terms of that procedure either to identify the individual concerned or to comment any further until the final outcome is determined.

“Apart from investigating the actual incident, we will also commission a wider review of the circumstances surrounding the case to determine how this individual came to act in such an inappropriate and upsetting way. For purposes of transparency, this review will be conducted by an external person who has no connection with the academy.

“Finally, having now established very useful links with members of the Muslim community in Luton, we would hope to work together to gain a better understanding of religious and cultural matters that impact on all our lives and will help us to be better educators.”

After uncovering the photo on Friday, 5Pillars wrote to the school asking them to confirm/answer a series of questions. Here are their responses:

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Was this presentation slide from All Saints Academy Dunstable?

Yes, the presentation slide was from the Academy

For how long has this presentation slide been used in R.E. classes? Is it still being used?

The slide was only used on the one occasion this week. It has been removed from all servers and electronic devices and will never be used again.

What is the name of the teacher who put this presentation together? We’d like to contact them for comment as well.

The teacher is suspended pending disciplinary procedures. It is not appropriate to name them since we are obliged to follow due process.

What action have your board of governors and headteacher taken regarding this matter (if any)?

The Principal suspended the member of staff as soon as the issue came to light. The governing board issued an immediate apology on the Academy’s website and Twitter feed. Following positive discussions with representatives of the Luton Council of Mosques, a further statement has been issued to that Council and also placed on the Academy’s website. There will be on-going dialogue with the Council. The Academy will also commission an external review of the circumstances leading to the presentation being produced and used.

Does ASA believe this is remotely acceptable?

The Academy is appalled by the deep offence this action has caused to the Muslim community, and to other people of faith. It was totally inappropriate even to consider producing an image of the Prophet Mohammed, which is contrary to the teachings of the Koran, let alone using an image of a renowned terrorist, Osama Bin Laden.

Is the teacher in question competent enough to teach religious education?

In line with the response to Q3, it is not appropriate to comment on the individual teacher at this stage.

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