With the recent highly publicised protests held at a school in Batley the limelight is upon the Muslim community in the UK.

A teacher at the school provoked Muslim students by showing offensive caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (s) in a Religious Studies lesson. More than 70 percent of pupils at the school are from a Muslim background so the incident was all the more insensitive.

The result was two days of demonstrations by parents and faith leaders that ended with an official apology from the school’s management.

How should Muslims react when provoked in this manner? Should we accept apologies - sincere or not - and forgive and forget?

Prophet Muhammad (s) showed us how to behave towards those who criticise and mock us. He was just and fair even towards his enemies in times of war and in times of peace.

He taught us patience, good manners and dignity in the face of adversity.

Muslims love the Prophet (s) more than they love their own parents and children so it is natural to be offended and angry when he is mocked and ridiculed. It is normal to become passionate when our Prophet (s) is insulted.

But we have to use the law to fight against hate speech and Islamophobia with reason and good behaviour although countering institutional racism which demean minority beliefs is about more than just behaving well.

It is very likely that the 29 year old teacher knew of the repercussions of showing the images which were first published by the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo resulting in an atrocity that ended with the killing of 12 people. Was he deliberately offensive or did he make a terrible mistake?

In my opinion the ideal way of counteracting Islamophobia is through raising awareness. Islam speaks for itself through the Holy Quran and the life and teachings of the Prophet (s).

The Salman Rushdie affair highlights my point, if Rushdie had been ignored, his writing would not have become so popular in the West. The fatwa on him and the mass protests and violence in the Muslim world just publicised his book and his deviant ideas and the consequent demonstrations and aggression gave the impression that Muslims are irrational and violent.

It is argued by some that the whole affair was a pretext for depicting Muslims in a derogatory way following on from a long history of prejudice and discrimination.

We have to counteract the likes of Rushdie using the rule of law and intellectually. The mainstream media have a field day when they are able to sensationalise issues and end up portraying Muslims in a negative way.

The issue of Islamophobia can be resolved through education; Muslims need to learn and practice their religion and also teach non-Muslims about their faith. Although unlikely, the accused RE teacher may have been ignorant about the issue of showing caricatures of the Prophet (s). 

Far from insulting caricatures, 90 percent of the 1.8 billion Muslims in the world believe it is offensive and blasphemous to portray the Prophet (s) in any way at all.

This incident highlights the need to inform school teachers and the media about Islam and the sensitivities of the Muslim community. Equally, as a minority community we have to learn how to deal with these issues using legal avenues. We believe in freedom of speech but not freedom of hate.

Muslim respect for different belief systems however, is inviolable and is a tried and tested system for coexistence with minorities.

The media in general approach the UK Muslim community for all the wrong reasons including when there is a terrorist attack or similar incidents such as the Batley Grammar School protest which was blown totally out of proportion.

This results in mainly negative stories about the Muslim community in the mainstream media such as the case of Shamima Begum who is widely hated. If Judaism and Jews were attacked in the media like Islam, there would be severe political and financial consequences for everyone involved. Islam and Muslims deserve the same protection.

We, the Muslim community should forgive perpetrators of offence if they are apologetic but we should not forget. Islam teaches us to forgive the remorseful and to be patient against the unrepentant.