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> "Evil" Teacher threatened with death..., Islam rears it's ugly head. Again.

Group: Members
Posts: 64
Member No.: 1539

  Posted: Dec 12 2007, 08:40 AM
Quote Post
I believe Bill Hicks said it best, "That's the problem with Fundamentalism, it has no sense of irony."

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) -- A British teacher has been arrested in Sudan for allegedly insulting Islam by naming a teddy bear Mohammed, taken as a reference to Islam's prophet and founder, the Sudan Media Center says.

The teacher, who wrote the name on the bear, was being interrogated Monday, the semiofficial center said. She was arrested Sunday after the Ministry of Education filed a complaint, acting on behalf of a parent of one of her students.

The British Foreign Office identified her as Gillian Gibbons, 54, and said her 7-year-old students named the bear when she asked them to. It was not clear whether Gibbons intended to name the bear after the prophet. Mohammed is a common name in the Muslim world.

The Sudan Media Center said legal procedures were under way against Gibbons, who taught at the Unity High School in Khartoum, which teaches students aged 4 to 18.

The school could not be reached for comment, and the British Embassy in Khartoum did not return calls.

A Sudanese government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said Gibbons was still being detained Monday pending the completion of the investigation.

Abdul Mageed Khogalli, a member of the government's Commission for Non-Muslims, said he was aware of the case but could not comment.

Gibbons' former colleagues in Liverpool, England, said they were dismayed by the news of her arrest.

Gillian Jones, head teacher at Dovecot Primary School, where Gibbons was a deputy head teacher from 2002 to July, when she left for Sudan, said she was "absolutely certain" that Gibbons would not have done anything to insult any religion.

"Gillian is a very talented and able teacher and she was extremely popular with the pupils at this school," Jones said.
It probably seemed like the most innocent of ideas to the newly arrived teacher from England, still settling into life in the Sudanese capital Khartoum. She asked her class of six- and seven-year-olds to dress up and name a teddy bear, and keep a diary of his outings. She hoped it would provide material for projects for the rest of the year. And it might have, except for the name the children chose for their bear: Muhammad.

Now Gillian Gibbons, 54, is spending her second night in a Sudanese prison, accused of insulting Islam's Prophet. She faces a public lashing or up to six months in prison if found guilty on charges of blasphemy. And Unity High School — one of a number of exclusive British-run schools in the Sudanese capital — has been closed as staff fear reprisals from Islamic extremists. Robert Boulos, the school's director, said the incident had been blown out of all proportion, but added that the school would remain closed until January to let ill feelings blow over.

"This was a completely innocent mistake," he said in an office decorated with sepia photographs dating back to the school's colonial heyday. "Miss Gibbons would have never wanted to insult Islam."

Police raided the school, where Gibbons also lives, on Sunday.

"We tried to reason with them but we felt they were coming under strong pressure from Islamic courts," said Boulos. "There were men with big beards asking where she was and saying they wanted to kill her."

A similar angry crowd had gathered by the time she arrived at the Khartoum police station where she is being held.

Unity, founded early in the last century, is one of several British schools run along Christian lines in an overwhelmingly Muslim country. Its high brick walls shut out the dust of everyday Sudanese life, transporting the visitor into the shady courtyard of an Oxbridge college or English private school. Many of its pupils come from well-to-do Sudanese families keen for their children to get the best education that money can buy. But Sudan is ruled by religious conservatives. Sharia law was introduced in 1991; alcohol is banned and women must wear headscarves. Convicted criminals are routinely flogged or executed.

The bizarre turn of events that led to the teacher's arrest began in September, soon after she arrived in the country, according to colleagues who have rallied in her support. Her young class was due to study the behavior and habitat of bears, so she suggested that pupils bring in a teddy bear to serve as a case study. A seven-year-old girl brought in her favorite cuddly toy and the rest of the class was invited to name him. After considering the names Hassan and Abdullah, they voted overwhelmingly in favor of Muhammad — the first name of the most popular boy in the class.

"No parents or teachers complained because they knew she had no bad intention," said Boulos. Until last week. Parents from another class raised concerns with the school. Then Sudan's feared police came calling at the weekend. Gibbons' colleagues said they feared a disgruntled member of staff may be using the issue to cause trouble.

Bishop Ezikiel Kondo, chairman of the school council, said: "The thing may be very simple, but they just may make it bigger. It's a kind of blackmail." Khartoum has exploded with anger at accusations of blasphemy in the past. Last year angry demonstrators denounced cartoons of the Prophet that appeared in Danish newspapers. And there have been protests at the actions of Zoe's Ark, a French charity accused of trying to smuggle children out of neighboring Chad.

Now everyone is waiting to see whether religious leaders or politicians will take their supporters onto the streets this time. Most parents arriving at the school gates were supportive of the British teacher. One mother, whose seven-year-old son was in Gibbons' class, said her family had not been offended by the name. "Our Prophet Muhammad tells us to be forgiving," she said. "So she should be released. She didn't mean any of this at all."

I haven't gotten this angry over a news story in a long time.furious.gif I will not apologize for what I am about to say. It is hypocritical, it is insensitive, and it is inflammatory. It may even be inexcusable.

People who are willing to kill, or incarcerate with corporal punishment, another human being over a name given to a stuffed animal do not deserve my respect, my sympathy, or the right to live.

I know how important the 5 Pillars of Islam are to the communities of the Middle East. I've been there.

However, to assign such harsh penalties to such a simple mistake, to have religious leaders issue death threats over something that could've been handled with a few whispered admonitions goes beyond a travesty of Justice.

I will stop here before I truly begin to speak my mind, and alienate everyone...


PMEmail Poster

Master Of His Domain
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Member No.: 8

Posted: Dec 12 2007, 08:58 AM
Quote Post
People who are willing to kill, or incarcerate with corporal punishment, another human being over a name given to a stuffed animal do not deserve my respect, my sympathy, or the right to live.

handclap.gif handclap.gif handclap.gif handclap.gif handclap.gif

I hear ya --- I get sick to my stomach when I hear of how some Middle East countries punish their accused and "alleged" criminals. It's as if those people are still living in the middle ages.

Such barbarism has no place in my world and anyone who promotes those types of inhumane acts of torture, pain and suffering on another as a form of punishment or interrogation, such as water-boarding, is not my friend and I will not defend their right to live.

"Ye shall know them by their fruits"
~ Matthew 7:16

"Believe nothing. No matter where you read it, or who said it, even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense."
~ Buddha
PMEmail PosterUsers WebsiteAOL

Group: Members
Posts: 64
Member No.: 1539

Posted: Dec 12 2007, 10:32 AM
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It's as if those people are still living in the middle ages.

Unfortunately PuPP, “as if” does not apply. While they have adopted the trappings of Modern Life (cell-phones, computerization, rudimentary electrical infrastructure, etc.), they have adamantly refused to join the rest of the world (if only on the surface in some cases) in the furthering of Humanitarian Civilization.

Things have been said to the effect of apathetic Human Rights Progression in our country, but I hold that real progress as indeed being made. The difference over just the last 50 years is proof enough for me of our dedication to the concept of Freedom and Justice for All.

It is a never-ending battle to be sure, but there are those in this country who fight for such ideals.

From first-hand experience, I can assure you that in the Middle East, they fight to remain in the Dark Ages.


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