I’m sure many of you have heard about this story already, but I definitely find it worthy of discussion.
In Sudan, British schoolteacher Gillian Gibbons has been arrested for the most heinous of crimes. Gibbons has been accused of insulting the great Muslim Prophet Mohammed. This vile act could cost Gibbons up to 6 months in jail, 40 lashes with a bamboo stick, or a fine.
But what exactly did Gibbons do that has brought upon the full wrath of the Muslim community? Maybe she made caricatures like the ones we saw in the Danish newspaper. Or maybe she spoke negatively about Mohammed by calling him a false prophet. There are any number of actions that could be construed as an insult to the Prophet Mohammed. But much to my surprise, Gibbons appears to have found a new one!
She organized a class project for her students to learn about bears. Pretty harmless so far :) Gibbons then had a student bring in a teddy bear and allowed the class to name it. Now here’s mistake number one. Allowing children to vote can be construed as fostering democracy and thus imposing western culture on these Islamic children. Fortunately for Gibbons that went unnoticed.
The children eventually decided on Mohammed as a name for the teddy bear. Mohammed is a very common name in Muslim countries and millions of people are named as such. Other names that were tossed about were Addullah and Hassan. But 20 out of 23 kids liked Mohammed and thus the decision was final.
Gibbons made diaries for each child that had a picture of the teddy bear on the cover. The plan to have each kid take the bear home for a weekend and write about what they did. Seems rather harmless to me, but here comes mistake numero dos. Gibbons carelessly labeled each diary, “Hello, My Name Is Mohammed.”
Now obviously I find this whole story to be absolutely insane. Gibbons was clearly not insulting the great Prophet Mohammed by depicting him as an animal. The teddy bear’s name was Mohammed… a very common name is Islam. Even some of the students are named Mohammed. Should they too be seen as insulting the Great Prophet? Now if the diary was titled, “Hello, My Name Is the Prophet Mohammed” then yes I guess could see a potential issue. But that’s not what it says. Muslims just assumed that’s what it meant. The only reason for this to me at least is either blind ignorance, or just fundamentalists looking for any excuse to start trouble. Either way, having Gibbons arrested is inexcusable and speaks volumes on how archaic and ignorant some of these Muslim countries are with respects to law enforcement.
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