Nov 292007
 

No doubt you’ll have learned by now that Gillian Gibbons has received a jail sentence in Sudan for naming a teddy-bear Muhammad.

The vile criminal.

Of course, like me, you’ll have followed the Khartoum police investigation with awe and amazement as their investigative unit swung into action and cracked the case within hours. What an outfit! What a bunch of crime-busters!

Deeply impressive police work. Here’s a hearty “Well done!” to the Khartoum Cops.

In case you missed the facts, this involves a British teacher working in Sudan, who had the children vote to name a toy teddy-bear. The kids called the teddy after a popular child in the school called Muhammad, and everyone was happy, with the kids taking turns to bring the bear home. All went well until a secretary in the school decided to become offended, upset it seems at the class’s naming of the bear after the Prophet.

Now, I thought it wasn’t named after the Prophet. I thought it was called after after a kid in the school, but the Khartoum Cops took a different view, and they arrested the teacher, before launching a high-powered investigation.

They called in the CSI. They called Poirot. They sent for Inspector Ghoti. They alerted the Fish Police, Sam Spade, Batman, and Elliot Ness. The Leith Police dismissed them.

Finally they had enough evidence to put before a court, with DNA, CCTV, psychological profiling, phonetic forensics, butterfly larvae and pictures of bald tyres. A cast-iron case for a brutal criminal.

This morning , I opened up my Irish Times and read a little piece by Rob Crilly in Khartoum that seemed strangely relevant, given the recent criticism of Bock for using certain terminology.

Here’s what the report says: —

“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”, said the leaflet handed out by a moderate suffi group at Khartoum’s Great Mosque.

Eh, moderate? These are the moderates? Impressive. Let’s see the extremists.

.o0o.

In the interests of balance, it only seems fair to quote some of the comments from Muslims.

Here’s what Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain said:

This is a disgraceful decision and defies common sense. There was clearly no intention on the part of the teacher to deliberately insult the Islamic faith. The children in Ms Gibbons’ 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 Ms Gibbons is freed from this quite shameful ordeal.

And here are some comments by Muslims on the BBC site. Many are understanding. Some are not. One commenter makes the eminently reasonable suggestion (it seems to me) that the toddlers who named the bear should be punished.

This seems like a great idea. How many lashes do you reckon a four-year-old could take without dying?

In fact, why stop there? If the little blasphemers really disrespected the Prophet, maybe they should all be whipped to death, in that great moderate Islamic tradition we’ve come to know and love. Or maybe they should be treated as the prophet did his nine-year-old wife?

Hmm?

Anyway, here are the comments:

 

My 12-year-old son goes to the same school where Ms Gibbons is a teacher. The culture here, as elsewhere in the Islamic world, is very sensitive. That’s why the story took such a direction. Maybe she didn’t mean this to happen and it was an innocent mistake. But they don’t accept that as an excuse. Lashes is a severe punishment and it is too harsh for what she did. But she has to be punished somehow. She should have learnt more about this society and taken more care about her actions. Me and other parents are not happy about the school closure. The children are going to miss so many classes and they were supposed to have exams next week. Now they have to stay at home and wait.
Fatima, Khartoum Sudan

I’ve been a student at the Unity High School for the last seven years. I am really worried about Miss Gillian. I don’t know her because she teaches the younger schoolchildren, but I always see her playing with the kids and making them feel happy. She seems to be a wonderful teacher. I am a Muslim but I am not offended by what she did. She had no idea that it is forbidden. She should be freed.
Razan, Khartoum, Sudan

I believe this was a misunderstanding and the authorities are sensitive in light of the recent cartoon fiasco in Europe. I think it will be resolved and Miss Gibbons will eventually be cleared and allowed to go home. But it highlights how sensitive and defensive people have become. I pray it is all resolved soon and Ms Gibbions is allowed home.
Sultanah, Khartoum, Sudan

To feel offended by what the teacher did is impossible. She should not be punished for something like that. I believe that the teacher is in her right mind and is aware that she is in an Islamic country. I am sure she knows what can create religious tension and she wouldn’t have done such a thing on purpose. The poor lady is being accused of a sin she did not commit. I hope and pray that the UK government will take this seriously and intervene with vigour before things get out of hand. Why aren’t Muslim brothers taking more kindly to such things? Sanity my people!
Salma Aki, Khartoum Sudan

I was at the Unity High School when the event took place. I am a student there. I think it was a misunderstanding. I feel sorry for the teacher, sadly she lacked common sense. I am supporting Miss Gillian and I hope she can be free soon.
Mohamed Ahmed Osman, Khartoum, Sudan

I’m a Muslim and I find it ridiculous that such a harmless incident could incite such hatred. Where is the common sense? There are people called Muhammad who behave worse than animals and yet we have to imprison a teacher for choosing this name for a teddy bear. Simply outrageous.
Faruq, Singapore

From BBCArabic.com: Why did she choose this name in particular? There are many other names for these toy bears and children’s TV shows are full of them. It is actually an insult to Prophet Mohammed.
Amira al-Marani, Yemen

I was born in Sudan. I moved to the UK two years ago. The teacher went to Sudan and she should have learnt the laws of that country. Here in England people think that what she did was an innocent mistake, but I don’t think that. She was very wrong to make fun of the Prophet Muhammad. Boys are called Muhammad and that’s alright because mothers are proud to name their sons after the Prophet. But to name a teddy bear after him is wrong. The teacher should be punished because she has insulted Islam and Muslim people.
Meizu, UK

It looks unintentional. Therefore the teacher shouldn’t be punished. However, as a teacher she should be more careful and be thoroughly aware about other faiths in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious global environment. What would the teacher’s reaction be if one of the students suggested the name Jesus?
Ismail, UAE

From BBCArabic.com: Muhammad is a very common name for Muslims. If we are to punish this teacher for calling a teddy bear Mohammad, then we should punish criminals for being called Mohammad. The truth is that these failed regimes want to keep people busy with these trivial matters. Sudan has enough problems already. How would Sudan feel if European countries deported Sudanese citizens as a response to this action?
Samer Hassan

Speaking as a father I do not feel this was a well thought out plan by the teacher. However, I feel that she has done nothing wrong. The children themselves should be punished for having chosen the name of our great Prophet for a lowly bear. The teacher was misguided, whereas the children were malicious. They must be brought to answer for their blasphemy.
Abdullah Al-Zawawi, Sudan

This is absolutely insane. I could understand if it was meant as a malicious attack, but it is obvious that this is far from that. It was a simple mistake made by a foreigner in that country. There are many social and cultural mistake that foreigners make in the UK. I hope that they realise soon and release this woman.
Alex, Northern Ireland

From BBCArabic.com: It was an unintentional mistake on her part to call the toy Mohammad.
Riad, Syria

The children voted as well. They should lock them up too, as a lesson to anybody who insults Prophet Muhammad.
K K Djibouto, Sudan

As a committed Muslim who would always hope to uphold the dignity of Prophet Muhammad, I am outraged by the ignorance of the Sudanese authorities. The name Muhammad is given to others and is not exclusive to the Prophet, therefore why should they think the teacher intended the toy to be an effigy? While it is not befitting to give an animal this beautiful name, any half-witted person can see that this was done with good intention. The idea of hardline rules and punishments for such trivial issues is in no way a reflection of the true Islamic teaching and I expected better from Sudan. I believe it makes a mockery of the traditionally upright and just Islamic law system. I hope the school teacher will be freed at once and apologised to.
Siddiq Bland, Leicester, UK

From BBCArabic.com: This incident shows how some people insist on insulting Prophet Mohammed in spite of the fact that they know that Muslims respect and venerate him. This teacher lives in a Muslim country and surely she knows how Muslims feel about the Prophet.
Yohanna Yousuf, Mosul, Iraq

This is unbelievable. I’m fed up of reading and hearing stupid incidents like these, which further enhance the incorrect portrayal of Islam. The teacher has quite clearly made an innocent mistake. Islam is about tolerance and forgiveness. The possible repercussions of this incident contradict this entirely. It provides more fuel for the anti-Muslim sentiment around the world.
British Muslim, London, England

It is ludicrous that Sudanese officials found the actions of this teacher offensive to their religion. By no means did she try to create a visual image of Prophet Muhammad, especially as the visual aid was in fact a harmless stuffed teddy bear. Since visual representation of the Prophet is considered blasphemous, then shouldn’t all those Muslim men who are named after the Prophet change their names?
Nishank Motwani, New Delhi, India

From BBCArabic.com: The fact that she is English and lives in an Arab country makes her aware of our traditions and values. The English in particular know a lot about us and are respectful in their dealings in Arab countries. I think that if any action is to be taken, it should be to deport her and ask for an official clarification of what she meant by her action.
Ashraf Morsi

I am a Muslim, and I must say that the interpretation of the rules has gone too far. I can only expect that the teacher wanted to respect the children’s honour of the Prophet by naming the teddy bear after him. It is a popular name. Every other boy in Malaysia has Muhammad as part of his name. I don’t think that she intentionally tried to offend the Prophet. Children have a tendency to name favourite objects with their favourite names and, if anything, parents should feel rather proud that their children find the name Muhammad so dear to them. This ridiculous interpretation of Islamic rules should be stopped.
Syazwina Saw, Malaysia

From BBCArabic.com: My name is Mohammed. Should my parents be tried for insulting Islam?
Mohammed

——–

Elsewhere:

The Daily Mash

Gordon Loses Khartoum

Organized Rage

 

  31 Responses to “Khartoum Time: the Great Islamic Teddy-Bear Scandal of 1423”

Comments (31)
  1.  

    Call the police! Call a Jihad! Call the Jihad Police! I’m a teddyboy and I’m totally insulted that someone would even dare name one of my kind after a fictional character. By the quiff of the cadillac, may the gel of a thousand hairstylings infest the non-moving parts of their oil producing machinery.

  2.  

    Interesting to read the range of responses. It seems that extremists are no more likely to come from Sudan as from the UK. It’s chilling to read some of these responses; gratifying to read moderate Muslims’ comments too. I think one of the challenges to moderates in reclaiming their religion from the lunatics, is that Islam isn’t a centralised religion with edicts and doctrine coming down from a single authority. It means short of your own imam their is no central Muslim body to appeal to to stop the madness. I’d like to see moderate Muslims organise and fight back doctrinally to discredit the thugs amongst them form hijacking the Koran. Easy for me to say. These militants are deeply scary and think nothing of killing their fellow Muslims for dissent. But this is a crisis in Islam and as in many other struggles, it’ll take heroic individuals to risk their lives, speak out and inspire others before Islam can recover.

    That poor woman must be out of her mind with fear. What is all this carry on teaching her pupils? They are likely scared too – especially if Mr. Al Zawawi above could have his way. The children were malicious? That’s one of the most deranged things I’ve heard a person say and I’ve been around people who thought they were Mary Queen of Scots.

  3.  

    I really hope humanity moves past religion some point in the future. It will be a much better world when we can refer to the religions as:
    Muslim mythology
    Christian mythology
    Jewish mythology
    Sikh mythology (although the religion is pretty lapse anyway and seems one of the more fun ones out there.)

  4.  

    Moo! hay soos

  5.  

    I love it – what if the teddy bear was named Jesus?

    No one would give a flying fuck.

    People need a reality check. Living your life in accordance with your faith is one thing, but being ignorant about the world at large is another. And I noted a number of the posters did NOT have their facts straight..again with the ignorant unwashed masses thing.

    I think I’ll start a new campaign, a charitable fundraiser for….Ramadan? next year…

    I’ll call it

    “Bears for Muhammad”

  6.  

    I lived in Khartoum, Sudan when I was 11 years of age. My Father was an Aer Lingus pilot on contract to the Sudanese Airline. I lived in (phonetically) “shara nimona wahied” = street number one. Right now I’m happy I never named my teddy Muhammad.

  7.  

    Teddy bear effigies! Sounds like a nice seasonal addition to the Effigy shop chain. Now if we could get Barbie to promote pork scratchings in Islamabad, we’re laughing

  8.  

    I can’t believe everybody has overlooked the malign influence of the teddy bear here.

    Get the furry little cunt strapped to a pole and give him the 40 lashes. See how he likes it, the provocative little fucker.

  9.  

    You know what sticks in my ass like a backwards hedgehog?
    For 20 years I listened to Ian Paisley telling me I followed the Anti-Christ and what a cunt I was, and I had to take that with a smile. When some didn’t, the army shot them down just like in Burma or Pakistan or any other Islamic shithole, and now this.
    What does my pissy pants government do?
    Whines.

  10.  

    I think bock should lead the campaign to get everybody to stick some mohamed name badges to mohammed bears sorry, teddy bears and post them to the Sudanese prime misnister.

  11.  

    How does it work then? You can not name someone/something after Mohammed but you can call your children by that name therefore creating an image of the prophet – which is disallowed. Where is the line drawn?

  12.  

    “a charitable fundraiser for….Ramadan? next year…”

    Er, I don’t think that’s necessary. Ramadan is when Muslims *don’t* eat. Until sundown. N’est ce pas?

    You know, with all the Muslim-bashing that’s going on in the ‘West’ and this GWOT shit, I suspect the intention here was to say, “Look here, you will respect our customs and our religion!”

    Except, they chose the most *appallingly* unsuitable case of which to make an example. And it’s become a farce. She’ll be home in a jiffy anyway. Or so I gather.

    And for a bit of balance, again, NOBODY in this country would call their child Jesus, let alone a teddy bear. It’s an even *more* reserved name than Muhammad. (I know they do it in Spain, and I don’t know how it became acceptable there and not here.) And yes, before you say anything, nobody would be lashed for using the name Jesus here, but it would upset many, many people. Even more in certain parts of the US – I imagine.

    [PS, Bock, I wish you had Preview in comments. Save me posting stupid typos.]

  13.  

    Dr Maroon, I take your point.

  14.  

    Nora –

    You are right, the point was that they wished some respect for their religion, but tellingly the teacher didn’t name the bear, the children did.

    Also…I’m not sure where in the U.S. you live, but here in Atlanta, Jesus (as in spanish) is the name of every third person of hispanic descent. They mean nothing by it, of course….

  15.  

    Well at the moment it looks like it’s getting rather out of hand what with thousands rallying calling for the death penalty. It is a very volatile situation both religiously and politically. Religion and politics – the worst combination since surf’n’turf was invented.

  16.  

    Politically even! Aggh – I hate typo’s.

  17.  

    Hello Bock,
    As an aside, I went to a large shopping mall today, and visited a popular stationary retailer’s outlet, and there on the shelf was a display of money boxes. No ordinary money boxes these, but little figurines, about 9 inches tall, molded plastic, coated in that horrible suade stuff.
    They were shaped like
    a:) Jesus (he was purple, and obviously popular as there was only one left).
    and
    b:) The Virgin Mary, (She was blue, and there were loads of her.)
    I reckon we should delcare some sort of fatwar, or indiscriminate flogging of their staff. It’s a good job this isn’t a Christian country anymore or there’d be a bloody revolution over this. Thankfully, we don’t give a shit anymore.
    I’m thinking of moving to Sudan.

  18.  

    For fucks sake the Spanish say hey soos every time someones sneezes!

    Nora – what muslim bashing? Seems the other way round to me.

    She should’ve called him Mo for short, like Jeez

  19.  

    Nice one, people. Let that anger out there.

    What amazes me is the fact that you don’t want to string up the violent, abusing Catholic clergy fuckers.

    Why don’t you want to murder them?

  20.  

    “Jesus (as in spanish) is the name of every third person of hispanic descent”– Eliza

    I know, Eliza. I don’t know how it became acceptable in the Spanish language. I don’t know (as of now) of any other language which uses it in this way.

    “what muslim bashing? Seems the other way round to me.”–Dan

    Maybe it depends on the sources you’re reading/watching. The GWOT is widely seen as a ‘War on Islam’. All this talk of ‘Clash of Civilizations’. Despite the fact that moderate Muslims have been living in Western countries without all this brouhaha for a long time.

    And if you read right-wing blogs in the USA it’s pretty clear what they believe the ‘GWOT’ means. AND it’s seen that way by Muslims, just about everywhere. When was the last time you saw a reference to a non-Muslim “terrorist”?

    Moderate Muslims are getting it from BOTH sides — their good names being destroyed by Islamic extremists/terrorists on the one hand, and Muslim-bashing and Koran-bashing going on at the same time. The UK is constantly, daily, debating and dissecting their Muslim population.

    Meanwhile, Palestinians *still* don’t have their own State. Afghanistan and Iraq have been invaded. Hundreds of thousands have been killed by high-tech weapons. Iran is under heavy threat of illegal bombing by the USA, which Dick Cheney craves like a lunatic.

    What exactly do you expect Muslims to feel?

    “at the moment it looks like it’s getting rather out of hand what with thousands rallying calling for the death penalty”–rockmother

    Rent-a-crowd.

  21.  

    Fucking right. If only people would fight their battles in terms of their legitimate concerns, we wouldn’t have these problems.

    The disgraceful Israeli dispossession of the Palestinians should never have been presented in religious terms, and the people who hijacked it in the name of Islam did nothing to help those whose homes were stolen.

  22.  

    Most Irish children are called Jesus. ” Jesus Christ Buzz will you go to bed “, ” Jesus Omar, will you for once, just once, eat your dinner”
    We’re very religious, our family , we are.

  23.  

    Aboy Bock

    This has nothing to do with yer man Mohammad. I couldn’t be arsed even getting into it. There’s a very good interview with the Barnhall Bruiser on RTE radio which you might enjoy.

    http://www.rte.ie/sport/rugby/audiovideo_index.html

  24.  

    Bock, by the time I finished reading the post, the comments, and the comments (if you know what I mean) I was giggling.

    I don’t giggle very often. I think my immune system is up.

  25.  

    These people want to behead a teacher who’s students called a Teddy bear Mohammed, yet the very same prophet Mohammed married a child of six and had sex with her when she was nine while she was still playing with her dolls like all little girls do , seems the Sudanese revere pedophiles.
    Something wrong with this picture.

  26.  

    Lets analyze this:

    1. The bear was named offensively to muslim feelings. (We can’t decide their rules, it their religion)

    2. She was teaching their children, in their country. This is a act of great respect.

    3. This was 100% unintentional or she is extremely brave, ‘nd kinda stupid, to do so in a Muslim country!

    SO keeping in mind that since this was an unintentional mistake committed by an individual who is helping them in their country leaving pleasures of UK behind, she should have been let off with a warning to be careful in future. She should have been told to be careful and consult them in case of any confusion in future!

    So, punishment to her is clearly unjustified.

    and, referring too comment no. 3, mohammed wht exactly do u mean by ‘lapse’ in Sikhism?

  27.  

    folks, never mind my grammar, this stupid online spell and grammar check thinks it is better than me and changes stuff! got rid of it now!

  28.  

    Jasjeet: I think he means “relaxed”, which is kind of a compliment, in my opinion. He’s saying you’re not as uptight as everyone else. (Most of the time).

    On the teddy-bear thing, we’re now hearing a lot of Muslim voices saying how ridiculous the whole thing is.

    And anyway, as I have said here many times, what’s wrong with offending people? It keeps them alive!

  29.  

    Being offended certainly gets me out of bed every day!

  30.  

    Wonder how they’d react of someone put this poster up somewhere in Khartoum:

    http://www.weaselzippers.net/blog/2008/01/lost-mohammed-d.html

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