A teacher in the Netherlands has been forced into hiding after some students objected to a political cartoon concerning Islam displayed in his classroom.
Rotterdam police said on Friday they had arrested an 18-year-old girl on suspicion she posted a message on social media that “incited others to commit crimes” directed at the teacher and the Emmauscollege high school.
The incident took place just two weeks after French history Samuel Paty was beheaded on Oct. 16 in broad daylight outside his school by a teenage Chechen refugee, after he used the caricatures of Prophet Muhammad in a class on freedom of expression.
During a classroom discussion at the school on Monday, students noticed a satirical cartoon that had been hanging on a bulletin board for years, and some took offense.
The cartoon, titled “Immortal,” shows a decapitated figure labeled “Charlie Hebdo” sticking its tongue out at a bearded man with a bloody sword.
It was drawn in the aftermath of the 2015 terrorist attack on the editorial offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which had angered Muslims by publishing caricatures of Prophet Muhammad. Twelve people were killed in that attack.
A photo of the image quickly began circulating on social media, and on Tuesday the teacher who had led the discussion went into hiding. Police said the teacher had been threatened and that they were treating the case “extremely seriously.”
“The fact that at this moment teachers are being threatened because they paid attention in their lessons to the discussion around cartoons is absurd and we must not tolerate it,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Friday.
“We must be able to discuss topics such as freedom of expression in our classrooms without any outside pressure,” he told reporters. “It may hurt when someone has an opinion that conflicts with your worldview or religious conviction, but they have a right to say so in all liberty.”
In a statement posted on its website Friday, the Rotterdam school said it is “completely unacceptable that a discussion between teachers and students is hijacked by people from outside who use this to make unfounded threats.”
Also on Tuesday, Le Monde reported that a school in a Paris suburb was closed after threats against a teacher.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.