Parents of a Muslim child in a Limerick school have received an apology from school authorities after a copy of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was passed round the class by the teacher. Ten staff members of Charlie Hebdo were gunned down in Paris last month by Islamic extremists.
The mother of an 11-year-old Muslim boy stated that she took great offense at her child being forced to see the magazine, which depicts the prophet Muhammad in an unflattering pose. The school, on O’Connell Street in Limerick City, is non-denominational.
She highlighted her “concerns and outrage,” saying her son was “subjected” to a copy of this magazine being passed around the classroom. She stated that other Muslim children were also forced to read the publication. She has four children in the school.
“Each child was told to read it and look at a picture that depicted the prophet Muhammad. This picture has caused great insult within the Islamic community in Ireland and the world,” the mother, who wishes to remain anonymous, told the Limerick Leader newspaper.
“My son is not the only child within the class that is Muslim and when he explained to the teacher that this such picture was offensive to him and his religion the teacher told him that 'it was part of his lesson,'” she claimed.
“We as parents teach our children every day to be respectful of other people and their cultures as well as their religion. How are we supposed to achieve this respect within our country if our educators are not mindful of the different cultures and religion in our classrooms?” she asked.
The chairman of the multi-denominational Limerick School Project Richard Allen said it was an “unfortunate incident” and said the board had apologized.
He said that a copy of the Charlie Hebdo issue was brought in by another pupil during a discussion about the French Revolution and freedom of speech.
Allen stated they “respect all religions and no one” in the school would ever “set out to cause offense to anybody.”
“We live in a society where information flows freely, and we can’t be like we were in this country in generations past where we hid things. Children have a right to discuss these things, understand them and have a view, but also understand there’s an inherent responsibility that comes with free speech. Children take in an awful lot of information, much more than we as adults would think [they do]. You do a disservice to 11 year-olds at times when you think they don’t understood,” he said.