Wednesday, November 28, 2007

British Teacher Charged in Sudan Over Teddy Bear

The Sudanese Government has decided to pursue criminal cases against 54-year-old Gillian Gibbons, a British teacher, after she allowed a class of seven-year-olds to name a teddy bear Mohammed. Some of the parents of her students complained (isn't that how these things always start?) and she is now being held by police in Khartoum.

According to Sky News, she faces possibility punishments including "40 lashes, six months in prison, or a fine".

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Mohammed (including its many variants) merely an Islamic name meaning "praised"? Why must a naming of Mohammed necessarily refer to the original prophet Muhammad? It may be the most common, most popular name of all time. Even allowing the bear to be a direct reference to the founder of Islam, teddy bear naming is a term of endearment, not a sign of disrespect. I'm assuming that most of the citizenry of Sudan probably does not support this action against Gibbons.

Though I doubt this will reach a level rivalling a "Satanic Verses"-like scandal in the Muslim world, nothing can be more telling than the fact that the private school has shut down since the scandal.

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