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A Bear called Muhammad

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Is anyone else as shocked as I am by the arrest of a British schoolteacher in Sudan for allowing a child in her care to name a teddy bear after one of her classmates?Forty lashes?I don't get it:why are parents allowed to call their children after a "prophet" but those children do not have a right to call their toys whatever name they please?I find it very difficult to understand how,in the year 2007,people have their right to free expression curtailed with laws that threaten them with physical harm.I do not want to offend anyone,but also I will not be bullied into behaving a certain way by others and their beliefs.Get that poor woman out of custody at once,I say;she is a teacher,not a dangerous gun toting,book waving fundamentalist.Please excuse me if I appear Ignorant,I am just deeply concerned for the wellbeing of someone who has not tried to hurt anybody,she's just trying to help the kids of Sudan get an education. :shock:

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Ah, but Sudan is a muslim country. This means that thier idea of "Law" is very different to ours. Where our laws are based on centuries of precedent and informed by a deep respect for human rights (despite what some posters on this forum may wish), their's are based on a 1500 year old book which is the literal word of god and cannot be interpreted, argued with or changed and which calls for the mutilation, torture and execution of their victims without appeal or even a strong burden of proof.


Having said that, allowing children to name a teddy bear "Muhammed" in a muslim country in the present climate was, if not stupid then at least, extremely naive.

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^^I would suggest "a little careless" rather than "stupid" or "naive", but definitely not "part of a Western plot against Islam" as suggested in this report from the BBC.




Earlier, the Sudanese Embassy in London said the situation was a "storm in a teacup" and signalled that the teacher could be released soon, attributing the incident to a cultural misunderstanding.


But Sudan's top clerics have called for the full measure of the law to be used against Mrs Gibbons and labelled her actions part of a Western plot against Islam.


There can be no justification for this arrest, and here's hoping for an acquittal ASAP.

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Poor wife - you can't really slag her off for wanting to educate those bairns, can you?


I found this just now on Yahoo News:


KHARTOUM (Reuters) - A British teacher detained in Sudan after her class called a teddy bear Mohammad was charged on Wednesday with insulting Islam in a move that sparked a diplomatic row between London and Khartoum.


Gillian Gibbons, 54, was also charged with inciting hatred and showing contempt for religious beliefs, Sudanese official media said. If convicted, she could face 40 lashes, a fine, or one year in jail.


"Khartoum North prosecution unit has completed its investigation and has charged the Briton Gillian (Gibbons) under Article 125 of the criminal code," the Sudanese news agency SUNA said, quoting a senior Justice Ministry official.


In London, a Foreign Office spokesman confirmed Gibbons had been charged and officials said Foreign Secretary David Miliband was calling in the Sudanese ambassador over the affair.


"We are surprised and disappointed by this development and the foreign secretary will summon as a matter of urgency the Sudanese ambassador to discuss this matter further," Prime Minister Gordon Brown's official spokesman said.


The matter will go before a court on Thursday and Gibbons, who is from Liverpool, is expected to appear.


A statement from the Sudanese embassy in London said the case came in response to parents' complaints.


"It is now a police case and the temptation to treat it as a media sensation should be resisted. We certainly do not wish to resort to 'trial by media'.


"British teachers are doing a great job in Sudan. We hope that Ms Gibbons' case will soon be resolved," it said.


Fellow teachers said they did not believe Gibbons had intended to insult Islam and had made an innocent mistake in choosing the name.


Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said in a statement released in London: "This is a disgraceful decision and defies common sense."


Earlier on Wednesday, three British embassy officials and a teaching colleague from the Unity High School where Gibbons worked were allowed to visit her for more than 90 minutes.


"I can confirm that we have met Ms. Gibbons and she said she is being treated well," said British consul Russell Phillips. "We remain in close contact with the Sudanese authorities on this case."


Gibbons was arrested after some parents complained about the bear being named after the Prophet Mohammad.


Teachers at the school said Gibbons had asked her class of 7-year-olds to choose their favourite name for the bear, and 20 of the 23 had voted for Mohammad.




A 7-year-old student called Mohammad told Reuters this week he had suggested his own name be used for the bear.


In a writing exercise students were allowed to take the bear home and asked to keep a diary of what they did with the toy. These accounts were put together in a book entitled "My Name is Mohammad".


Leaflets were distributed in Khartoum calling for protests after Friday prayers, but many ordinary Sudanese said they were ready to forgive Gibbons if she apologised.


"When we heard we wanted to demonstrate immediately but some said we should wait and see what the concerned authorities find out," said Abdallah, a science student.


Shopkeeper Sabir Abdel Karim said that if Gibbons had not intended to insult Islam, an apology to Muslims would be enough to end the problem.


"Any one can make a mistake and Muslims are forgivers. She will be forgiven and God will be the judge."


Rumours of riots, violent protests and cars burning near the school were rife but the streets were calm and there was no sign of demonstrations.


Not everyone was ready to forgive and forget, however.


"She is a teacher and should be teaching her pupils to be respectful and have morals but instead she is doing the opposite," said Mohamed Toum, a law student.


I hope they really do 'forgive and forget', as they say they will.

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Someone should point out to them that, if they are applying their law as strictly as they normally do, it was the seven year old children who chose the name Mohammed for the bear, and it should therefore be the children who are subject to forty lashes and several months in jail

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The UK is committing considerable resources to help to alleviate the immediate humanitarian crisis and will continue to push for full humanitarian access for NGOs (Non-Government Organisations )operating in Darfur. The UK is the second largest bilateral humanitarian donor, having contributed over £290 million in humanitarian assistance to Sudan (£145m to Darfur) since April 2004 and having committed £6.5m in humanitarian assistance to Chad in 2007/08.






A religious sect distributed leaflets in Khartoum urging followers to stage a mass demonstration after Friday prayers. "What has been done by this infidel lady is considered a matter of contempt and an insult to Muslims' feelings," the leaflet said.


A statement circulated by student members of the Muslim Brotherhood condemned her actions.


One of its authors, Elsheikh El Nour, a veterinary scientist, said: "If she made an innocent mistake and did not mean Muhammad the Prophet, there is no problem. But if she meant Muhammad the Prophet, this is a big problem for Muslims. She must die."


Perhaps the millitant groups should look at how much money we 'infidels' pour into their country each year.


Will this treatment of Miss Gibbons make people less inclined to give their hard earned cash to this country when the next crisis appeal goes out?

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It would be rotten if this becomes an excuse to turn a blind eye to Sudan. We've known about the genocide in Darfur for years. What about 'never again'? It's happening right now. Maybe it's just the excuse we've been waiting for.


Why punish people who are being massacred and raped by the same groups and extremists who we view with such bewilderment/ anger in this case.


It's a grave mistake to see 'Them and Us' along religious or national lines. Gillian Gibbons and nameless people in Darfur are all suffering (bit of an understatement) because of fanatics and politicians. They are the real 'them', not all Muslims or the Sudanese people.


Don't let them divide and conquer us. If we do we are fools - and they know it. Gillian Gibbons suffers more if people she cares about, her pupils for example, suffer because we let extremists harden us to Sudan.


Ignoring horror in another country can only be a bad thing in the end for everyone, surely history proves that? Aid does get corrupted and governments are useless... but aid also does get through and enough hassle does kick a government's a**e.


Apathy is what fanatics and governments want. OK, don't give your money if you don't want to but don't give them your approval with apathy either. 'Bleeding hearts' has become a derogatory term - but hard hearts are dangerous things and allow horrors to continue and thrive.


Maybe they will lash her, we'll blame 'them' (all of 'them') and stop banging on about Sudan (well, it's more of a squeak than a bang but annoying for the government nonetheless). The divides will flourish.


Maybe they won't have to and can grant a diplomatic, oh-so-noble, pardon - the damage is already done. Clever eh?

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Earlier, the Sudanese Embassy in London said the situation was a "storm in a teacup" and signalled that the teacher could be released soon, attributing the incident to a cultural misunderstanding.


But Sudan's top clerics have ... labelled her actions part of a Western plot against Islam.


Rumour has it she was working for the CIA, and I'm sure I saw a star of David in one picture :wink: Sudans top clerics eh? "Them and Us" thinking can apply to, well, them, as well as us....


To be honest I think this "cultural misunderstanding" thing is a bit dubious too. It may be a misunderstanding in that she should never have gone to a place with those laws in the first place, but it also suggests that such a culture is perfectly OK if you understand it, that 40 lashes would be suitable punishment for someone that did know the laws, or that the laws themselves are OK. Lets be clear, this is but a mere drop in the ocean of sharia-oriented barbarity that happens in far too many countries around the world all the time. Once upon a time this country had principals, we shouldn't be taking this b***shucks, especially from officials, it should be made clear to them just how twisted and backward there country is.


According to yesterdays Times article she was being refused access to British officials, and, although it wasn't completely clear, it was reported that she had had limited food, if any, after 48 hours in custody. We really should make more of an effort to understand...


Verrrry interesting that the Brotherhood are stirring things up Pleepsie :roll:

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