Migration researcher Ruud Koopmanns has warned against false consideration in dealing with Mohammed cartoons. He criticised a recommendation by the Hessian Ministry of Culture warning school headmasters that showing such images could have serious consequences. “No teacher will dare to show the cartoons after reading the letter,” he told the newspaper Welt am Sonntag. He called for the focus to be on the educational mission in democracy. Other opinions and statements must be tolerated.
Already in December, the ministry had warned that there were disturbing “indications in connection with the thematisation of the murder of the French teacher Samuel Paty”. He was beheaded by an 18-year-old Islamist in France on October 16. The teacher had previously shown cartoons of Mohammed in class. The perpetrator had felt offended by this.
The ministry warned that dealing with the caricatures in school lessons could lead to serious, legally relevant reactions from physical assaults to serious acts of violence, in addition to expressions of displeasure.
Previously, the State Criminal Police Office (LKA) had announced that showing the Muhammad cartoons or any pictorial representation of the Prophet could be interpreted as behaviour critical of Islam and could have a radicalising effect. The LKA had come to this danger analysis after reactions of pupils during a minute’s silence for the murdered teacher. Although there were no “concrete indications relevant to the danger”, the LKA believes that it makes sense to “deal with this topic in a de-escalating manner in the educational process”.
Koopmann criticised that the Hessian Ministry of Culture’s concession rewarded perpetrators and mocked the memory of Paty and other victims. This would promote intolerance towards criticism of faith. According to the newspaper Welt am Sonntag, Susanne Schröter, an Islamic scholar from Frankfurt, also called the recommendations an “unacceptable capitulation to political Islam”. The president of the Bavarian Teachers’ Association, Simone Fleischmann, reported that some colleagues no longer wanted to use the cartoons. ” There is fear.”
The Ministry of Education responded to the criticism and stressed that it was important to be able to deal with such situations preventively and, if necessary, intervene. In other federal states such as Hamburg, Berlin and Lower Saxony, students had also shown their lack of understanding during the minute of silence, justified Paty’s murder and threatened violence.