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Khartoum Time: the Great Islamic Teddy-Bear Scandal of 1423

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

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Elsewhere:

The Daily Mash

Gordon Loses Khartoum

Organized Rage

 

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Crime Humour Politics Religion war World

Suicide Bombers

Well, another day, another atrocity.

MacDara commented on yesterday’s post that religions should get better killers.

It reminded me of an old post, from back in the days when very few people read this site.  It seems appropriate.

Imagine Being a Dead Muslim

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Favourites Politics Religion war World

Imagine being a dead Muslim martyr

I was out tonight in my pub of choice, having a few scoops of my drink of choice with my friends of choice, when the subject of Islamic martyrdom came up.

This is how sad I am, and how pathetically sad my friends of choice are too.

As we were all men, somebody was bound to bring up the matter of the 77 virgins. You just would, y’know? Somebody said, Well, it isn’t that bad. You have the 77 virgins waiting for you when you die heroically, after the martyrdom, which is probably painful all right, probably very fukken painful getting a spear through your chest but still, 77 virgins, y’know. How bad?

And on the face of it, that’s probably true. On the face of it, you would certainly think, how bad could it be?

Well, here comes the news. It could be pretty fucking bad. There you are, newly-arrived in heaven, and here’s your 77 virgins. How’s it goin’, Boss? Satisfy us, ya bollix!

All well and good. You get down to business, and as it’s heaven, involving the afterlife where you don’t get tired or any of that kind of thing, you finally manage to satisfy the 77 virgins.

Jesus Christ, I need a pint.

You’re about to slither off for a pint.

Where the fuck do you think you’re going? says the 77 ex-virgins.

To the pub!!

Without us? Not a chance!!

And there you are, eventually, having called 19 taxis. Right darlings, what are we having?

A stupid question. You stand at the bar, discussing your order with the barman who can’t believe what a stupid twat you are:

Let’s see if I have that, now. 32 Heineken with ice. 14 Heineken with lime. 4 spritzers. 2 gin and tonic. 5 Jagermeisters. 2 Fat Frogs. 11 tequila slammers. 3 pints of Bulmers. 3 Jamesons. 1Black Bush. And a Guinness.

No bother.

Jesus, there’s Mikey. How’s it goin’, Mikey – what will you have?

Oh, I’ll have a pint of Guinness, 44 tequila slammers, 15 red wines, 3 Wild Turkeys, 12 Coronas and 3 Slivovitz.

Grand, says the barman. That’s 32 Heineken with ice, 14 Heineken with lime, 4 spritzers, 5 Jagermeisters, 3 Jamesons, 55 tequila slammers, 2 gin and tonics, 2 Fat Frogs, 3 pints of Bulmers, 15 red wines, 3 Wild Turkeys, 12 Coronas and 3 Slivovitz. 1 Black Bush. And 2 pints of Guinness.

That’s right. Oh, Jaysus, here’s Tommy with his Mexican virgins. Tommy will ya have a pint? Grand. Will ya make that 3 pints of Guinness. And 121 tequila slammers. Grand. Fine.

Finally, after eight of the lads turn up, we get a cosy little sing-song going, involving a medley of old numbers by Captain Beefheart and the Velvet Underground. The 693 virgins seem a little pissed off at our lack of attention.

What’s wrong? we say.

As one, the 693 virgins reply, Nothing!

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Pope offends Muslims

Suicide bombers

Muhammad MacGyver

Idiots, religious lunatics and the war on terror


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Politics Religion

Pope Offends Muslims

I never thought I’d be saying this, but really, the Catholics aren’t too bad, are they? At least they don’t lose their minds every time somebody someplace thinks something bad about them. They don’t run around burning effigies and smacking themselves on the head with a fucking machete.

What’s the deal with these Muslims? OK, I know Pope Ratzo made some very offensive remarks, though you couldn’t call them ill-considered, coming as they did from the former chief of the Holy Inquisition. But still, come on! Grow up, lads. Get a life. Also, admittedly, Ratzo made comments about the use of violence to propagate religion, and admittedly he confined his remarks to Islam, seeming for some reason to overlook, for example, the genocides perpetrated by the Crusaders in the name of Christianity. That is true. He did. But after all, he’s an old man, and his brain is tired from years of running the Holy Inquisition (These days, of course, no longer torturing people with the Rack, and the Boot or the Iron Maiden, but perhaps silencing them in more subtle ways). Admittedly, he also overlooked the more recent attempted genocides by the Catholic ruling faction in Croatia during WWII, but again, he’s an old man, and anyway he was too busy in WWII shooting down Allied bombers. Wasn’t he? We must do a piece on the Waffen SS some time, out of interest. Whatever the truth of it, the Holy Father somehow seems to notice only Islamic violence, which is a bit unfortunate, you have to admit, but still, why the long face?

Suddenly they’re burning effigies in Pakistan. What the fuck is that? Does the word go out across the Muslim world – burn a fucking effigy!!

If you were offended by something, would you just happen to have a spare effigy somewhere about the house, ready for burning? Get me down the effigy there, Martha. It’s time for a burnin’!

What the fuck is that? Do Islamic homes have a sign in the hallway, like the instructions on a bus? In case of offence, burn effigy?

Some guy published a few cartoons, none of which was particularly insulting, and the next thing we knew they were out on the streets killing people, and trampling each other to death. What?? Do you think Christians would be trampling each other to death because of something Gary Larsen said? Are you mad? Or the Life of Brian? No? That’s right: no. Here in Ireland, they did actually ban the Life of Brian for a while, but that was because in those days the country was still run by the Catholic Taliban. They’re all gone now of course. These days they’re too busy running their private clinics, and have no time to worry about religion.

Imagine what would happen to Bock if Jesus was a Muslim. That would be the end of my Action Redeemer range of toys. There would be no Crucifixion Kit for Boys in the Christmas stocking this year. No Slaughter of the Innocents X-Box game. What would become of my blockbuster movie, Resurrection Payback, coming soon to a cinema near you, starring Vin Diesel as Jesus. All gone. It would be just myself and Salman Rushdie holed up in a cave near Kilfenora, with no hope of mercy.

Howya, Salman.

Howya, Bock.

Not so bad, Salman. I read that book of yours, Midnight’s Children.

Did ya, Bock?

I did, Salman. I thought you were a bit hard on Mrs Gandhi, now. A bit hard, Salman, if ya don’t mind me sayin’ it.

Not at all Bock. I read your blog too.

Did ya, Salman?

I did, Bock. ‘Twas shite.

There’s a lot I admire about true Islam. For instance, its tolerance towards other faiths. Its absolute prohibition on violence against innocent people.

Hmmm. Not a lot of real Muslims around then – just like Christians.

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Imagine being a dead Muslim

Suicide bombers

Muhammad MacGyver

Idiots, religious lunatics and the war on terror