27 November 2007

The case of the blasphemous teddy bear

British diplomats are trying to secure the release of a British schoolteacher who has been arrested in Sudan.Gillian Gibbons may face blasphemy charges for insulting Islam's Prophet. A conviction could mean six months in jail, 40 lashes or a fine. The crime – letting her pupils name a teddy bear Muhammad.

The toy was named in September as part of the class's study of animals and their habitats. But several parents made complaints to the authorities which led to Ms Gibbons' arrest on Sunday. The school, the Khartoum Unity High School, has now been closed until January for fear of reprisals. Fellow teachers feared for her safety after receiving reports that men had started gathering outside the police station where she was being held.

Ms Gibbons, who had joined the school in August, was following a British national curriculum course designed to teach young pupils about animals. She had asked a pupil to bring in her teddy bear and asked the class to pick names for it. The children chose Muhammad as their favourite name. Each child was then allowed to take the bear home at weekends and told to write a diary about what they did with it. The children's entries were collected in a book with a picture of the bear on the cover and a message which read, "My name is Muhammad." The bear itself was not marked or labelled with the name in any way, he added.

One Muslim teacher at the independent school for Christian and Muslim children, who has a child in Ms Gibbons' class, said she "I know Gillian and she would never have meant it as an insult. I was just impressed that she got them to vote," the teacher said. The country's state-controlled Sudanese Media Centre reported that charges were being prepared "under article 125 of the criminal law" which covers insults against faith and religion.

Oh for pity's sake what a stupid charge. Presumably a photograph of a person with the name Mohammed would be equally blasphemous. I hope the Sudanese government sees sense and drops this stupid case forthwith


Anonymous said...

From the Pied Piper of Haraam

There's a little bear
Like I hope you've never seen before
Who's a lot of fun, oh dear
Children everywhere,
Grow to love him more and more, but he's not the fastest growing religion anymore
He's was the number one, excepting the real Muhammad and Allah, be praised
There's a million stories to be told
Of the bad things that he's done!
And he's gonna share them all with you
So come along

Oh Muhammad, Muhammad the Bear
Everyone despise his name, or else die in shame
Muhammad, Muhammad the Bear
Everyone come and join
In all of his games, unless you’re female

There is Badger Bill
Lily Tiger-Lily, I assume because she is covered too,
And a whole lot more
They are Muhammad's friends
And they're waiting here for you
So unlock the door but don’t you dare remove that veil
There's a magic land not far away
And they call it Sudan
Where you'll meet a little teddy bear in chains
And if you are good and have a very thick skin, you might just live to tell the tale again!

Oh Muhammad, Muhammad the Bear
Everyone despise his name, or else die in shame
Muhammad, Muhammad the Bear
Everyone come and join
In all of his pain

Siani said...

I'm sick of religious fanatics. I don't care what their denomination is, I'm sick of them all, wherever they're from. Isn't worshipping a God supposed to be about peace, love and humanity? Yet religion has been at the heart of some of the direst cruelties wrought by the human race. Whether we're talking Islamic fundamentalists blowing up trains, or Jehovah's Witnesses let their kids die for want of a blood transfusion, I wish they'd all get real and join the 21st century.

jams o donnell said...

I wish so too Siani. If it isn't religiouis intolerance, we choose some other ideological one. I am utterly sick of such fanatics, whatever the stripe.

Jenn in Holland said...

The thing that boggles over this particular situation is the obvious to me. Why is it blasphemous to call a teddy bear Mohammed, but it's not considered so to name a child the same? I know dozens of Mohammeds (with myriad spellings of the same name) If the name itself is so sacrosanct, then why is it so common?
This whole thing just absolutely bugs. I am appalled. And of course hoping for a reasonable outcome for this poor INNOCENT woman!

jams o donnell said...

I really hope this stupid case is resolved quickly Jenn. It does not reflect well on the country

Anonymous said...

This is exactly how you lessen respect for your religion. The Sudanese authorities painted themselves into a corner by not finding out what had happened, but by making the assumption that the teacher had named the bear.

So, now the children in her class learned that they should not love Muhammad, but fear him. What an absolutely stupid thing to do.

jams o donnell said...

Yep Bryan, I shudder to think what messages this little fiasco sends to the kids who named the bear.

CC said...

It always makes me laugh that the name Muhammad includes the very non-Halal friendly meat, HAM right in the middle. You can't have Muhammad without a little bit of HAM!

My oldest two daughters did this same exercise in Kindergarten. One of the bears bore the name of Kirby. Thank heavens the vacuum cleaner fanatics didn't come out in force to persecute the teacher.

jams o donnell said...

Haha Ewbl, I'd never thought of that! I take it that it's a common exercise with children as for Kirby, it could ahve been worse - imagine what would have happened if they had called it Dyson Hoover... then you would ahve been in it!

beakerkin said...


This is a classic example of why theocracy is a bad idea and must be defacto totalitarian. Most of us detest Jim Crow, Apartheid and mindless class genocide. However, there are those who cry about Jim Crow in a monotone rant but turn a blind eye to its Islamic equivalent.

The far left has become so twisted
its logic is circular. Theocracy is bad when Pat Robertson makes another stupid anti gay remark. Countries that execute gays like Saudi Arabia and Iran are ignored.
Countries that persecute them such as Zimbabwe and Cuba historically are just irrelevant.

If you get another cat do not give him an Islamic name. Who knows what
would happen if Ted would be renamed Farouk?

jams o donnell said...

As you know I don;t care for tha behaviour beakerkin. They are fair game.

Captain USpace said...

This would make a wonderful Ramadan gift. A New Dark Age is Dawning has a link to them for sale at the Cafe Press store.

Calling these ignorant freaks in Sudan human garbage is just too kind. Oh so peaceful, effin SICK animals...

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
give a pig a prophet's name

glorify the godly swine
and thank him for his bacon

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
outlaw all teddy bears

before some little kids
try to honor a prophet

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
pay your teachers with DEATH

for visiting to help out
your ungrateful country