Wednesday 17 January 2018

School apologises to Muslim pupil over 'Charlie Hebdo' in class

A sign on the Arc de Triomphe reads
A sign on the Arc de Triomphe reads "Paris is Charlie" in solidarity with the victims of the shooting at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris (AP Photo/Peter Dejong) Newsdesk Newsdesk

A school has apologised to a Muslim pupil who took offence when a copy of the controversial French magazine 'Charlie Hebdo' was produced during a class.

The mother of the 11-year-old boy, who is in fifth class, has said that she was outraged after learning about the incident at Limerick School Project on O'Connell Avenue in Limerick city.

The magazine was produced by a student during a discussion on the French Revolution and freedom of speech.

"Each child was told to read it and look at a picture that depicted the Prophet Mohammed," the mother said.

"Ireland in 2015 has become more multi-cultural than ever and 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?" said the mother, who does not wish to be identified.

However, the chairman of the school, Richard Allen, said this was an "unfortunate incident" and apologised for any offence caused. He explained that it was not the teacher who brought the copy of 'Charlie Hebdo' into the classroom.


Some 100 copies of the magazine sold out recently in Limerick.

He said the class had earlier seen some of the coverage of the terrorist attacks in Paris, which killed 17 people, on a children's news programme on RTE called 'News 2Day'.

Mr Allen said they "respect all religions and none" in the school, and "would never set out to cause offence to anybody".

Nonetheless, he said the multi-denominational school, which has more than 200 pupils, believes in the right to freedom of speech.

Mr Allen said they can't control everything that children bring into the school, "nor do we want to".

"We have to teach them individual responsibility. Our pupils are on a first-name basis with their teachers.

"We have no uniform, and our no-mobile-phone policy is the same for teachers, as it is for pupils. Our whole ethos is based upon respect, and that's why it's disappointing to have issues like this," Mr Allen said.

"We teach students as much about Islam as we do about Christianity. We don't have religious education classes in the school, but we can make this available to any religious groups after school," he said.

Irish Independent

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