Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Sudanese Name Game

Be careful what you name a stuffed teddy bear. It might get the religious police to arrest you and threaten you with whipping and a prison sentence. Sudan is charging a teacher from Britain with insulting Islam.
Sudan on Wednesday charged a British teacher with insulting religion and inciting hatred, a crime punishable by up to 40 lashes, six months in prison or a fine, after she named a class teddy bear "Muhammad," Reuters reported.

The charges come a day after a 7-year-old Sudanese boy said Gilliam Gibbons, 54, asked him as part of a school assignment what he wanted to call the stuffed animal and he said, 'Muhammad,' after his name, Reuters reported.

Gibbons, of the private Unity High School in Khartoum, was arrested Sunday after one of her pupils' parents complained, accusing her of naming the bear after Islam's chief prophet. "Muhammad" is a common name among Muslim men, but connecting the Prophet's name to an animal could be seen as insulting by many Muslims.

Several Sudanese newspapers on Tuesday ran a statement reportedly from Unity High School saying that Gibbons had been "removed from work at the school" and apologizing for any offense, though it said the incident was a "misunderstanding."
Islam must be quite the insecure religion if they've got to beat the snot out of anyone who doesn't comply - especially if you're not a Muslim. Then again, Islam means submit - and Muslim is English for "one who submits."

The regime in Khartoum would like you to think that this is an isolated incident, but that isn't the case. These incidents are common throughout the Islamic world, and Sudan is among those nations that enforce Islamic law against those who do not adhere to Islamic law. However, the Islamists gives away their real feelings on the matter; they think the teddy bear name is part of an insidious plot:
But Sudan's top clerics said in a statement Wednesday that the full measure of the law should be applied against Gibbons, calling the incident part of a broader Western "plot" against Islam.

Northern Sudan's legal system is based on Islam's Sharia law, which harshly punishes blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad. Any depiction of the prophet is forbidden in Islam, for fear it would provoke idolatry. Caricatures of Muhammad in some European media last year sparked riots in several Muslim countries.
UPDATE:Via HA, an American Muslim group speaks out against the fabricated outrage and criminal sanction pending against the teacher in Sudan:
Earlier today, the Sudanese government charged Gillian Gibbons, a teacher at Unity High School in Khartoum, with insulting religion and inciting hatred for naming a class teddy bear "Muhammad." She faces up to 40 lashes and six months in prison.

“The sad legacy of the Danish cartoon riots is that we have to speak out immediately when extremists try to provoke clashes over trivial matters,” Weddady explained. “This is not about cultural sensitivities. There is no excuse for someone to be sent to jail and whipped over a teddy bear’s name. Ms. Gibbons needs to be freed at once.”

Jana El-Horr, a Peacebuilding Fellow with the American Islamic Congress, noted that the Sudanese regime is trying to distract attention from the ongoing genocide in Darfur. “Muslims around the world are horrified over the brutal killings in Darfur,” El-Horr explained. “Now the Sudanese regime is trying to rally support by putting on the ‘defender of Islam’ hat. But we won’t be fooled.”
There's a reason that public perceptions of Muslims is on the decline. It's because the Islamists justify their slaughter of civilians on a wide scale by claiming it is inherent in their religious views and anyone who disagrees, especially if you're a Muslim, is worthy of death.

More groups like this one have to speak out against Sudan and other Islamists who seek to inflict violence against those who do not adhere to their brand of Islam.

Lest this be ignored, Ms. Gibbons wasn't the one who named the teddy bear Mohammed. Her students did. She's being prosecuted for the acts of her students, who themselves thought nothing wrong with naming the bear after Mohammed.

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