Thursday, November 29, 2007

100th Post Extragavanza!

. . . And I'm using it for an update on yesterday's story.

I'll accomplish this through quotes from the ThisLondon article regarding the teddy bear controversy:

"A Sudanese official said it was "unlikely" that Mrs Gibbons would be convicted.

A powerful Sudanese newspaper urged authorities to call a hardline Islamist leader linked to Osama bin Laden to give evidence at her trial, to stress how offensive the case was to Muslims.

Extreme Islamic groups said Mrs Gibbons "must die" and urged Muslims to hold street protests after prayers tomorrow.

The Muslim Council of Britain said it was "appalled" at the decision by Sudan."

Regarding the naming of the bear and public outrage:

"The mother of two grown-up children was arrested on Sunday after parents were said to have complained she had insulted Islam's prophet by naming a teddy bear Mohammed as part of a class project.

However, a boy of seven came forward on Tuesday to say it was "all his fault", as he and his classmates at the Unity High School had voted to call the bear Mohammed after his own name.

He insisted his teacher had not intended to insult Islam.

Mrs Gibbons technically faces three charges - insulting Islam, inciting religious hatred and contempt for religious beliefs - each of which carries a maximum penalty of 40 lashes and a year in jail. But it is believed she will stand trial on only one."

One of its authors, 27-year- old Elsheikh El Nour, added: "If she made an innocent mistake and did not mean Mohammed the Prophet (when naming the bear) there is no problem.

"But if she did mean Mohammed the Prophet, she must die."

Leaflets distributed outside Khartoum's Great Mosque urged Muslims to march tomorrow in protest at Mrs Gibbons' actions.

They condemned what they described as "flagrant aggression" against the Prophet Mohammed and asked imams to address the subject Friday prayers.

The leaflets added: "What has been done by this infidel lady is considered a matter of contempt and an insult to Muslims' feelings and also the pollution of children's mentality as an attempt to wipe their identity."

The Muslim Council of Britain was furious at the decision to charge Mrs Gibbons.

"This is disgraceful and defies common sense," said Secretary-General Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari. "There was clearly no intention on the part of the teacher to deliberately insult the Islamic faith.

"The children in Mrs Gibbons's class and their parents have all testified as to her innocence in this matter. We call upon the Sudanese President, Umar al-Bashir, to intervene in this case without delay to ensure that Mrs Gibbons is freed from this quite shameful ordeal."

Her defense tactic is obvious: Mohammed is the #1 name of all time. This woman should have known to avoid all mention of any Islamic figure in any context, but a small minority of extreme fundamentalists with large followings may have disproportionate sway in this decision - overreaction is more apt a term.

A central principle of Islam practiced by Mohammed is tolerance and respect for other religions. It's a shame that some clerics and imams may blow up this extremely-minor issue beyond the attention it deserves. Shameful ordeal indeed.

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