Friday, November 30, 2007

Be Careful with Teddy Bears in Sudan

Gillian Gibbons, a British national teaching elementary-aged school children in Sudan, was sentenced to 15 days in prison followed by deportation this week for insulting Islam. On Friday, thousands of protesters took to the streets to express outrage over the leniency of her sentence and to demand the death penalty for her crimes. One prominent Muslim cleric said of Ms. Gibbons "she is an arrogant woman who came to our country, cashing her salary in dollars, teaching our children hatred of our Prophet Muhammad". What, you ask, was her crime? She let her young students name their class teddy bear Muhammad.

First of all, I understand that this really isn't about the name of a teddy bear. Since the Crusades, Muslims have frequently felt threatened by the non-Muslim world, often with good reason. I think most of those wanting a harsher punishment for Ms. Gibbons really don't want to go after her as much as they want to send a message to the rest of the world that they consider it extremely offensive when they feel we disrespect Islam. If there weren't wars going on in Iraq and Afghanistan or cultural wars pitting Europe and the U.S. against traditional Islamic values, these people probably wouldn't demand the government shoot a teacher who at worst made a culturally insensitive mistake.

Even considering all of that, I still have to wonder what kind of crazy pills they are taking over there. This wasn't an attack on Islam - and even if it was it was the Islamic children named the teddy bear, not Ms. Gibbons. I don't hear anybody demanding the deaths of those kids.

I suppose I just don't understand what on earth drives people to want to kill a school teacher for naming a teddy bear Muhammad. Hopefully, I never will.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, you would have to be crazy wanting to kill a person over what they name a teddy bear.

    I don't know how you solve the above problem. Maybe perhaps education? I think most people, no matter how religious they are, are less quick to want to "hurt" other cultures when they are educated about them.

    Unfortunately, some countries feel that they are educating their own about the "western world" even though it is negitive education. I just have to be optimistic that the world will get better.

    But alas again, to many humans feel you are only a true patriot if you spend your time trying to figure out how to "punish" all you perceive as enemies. First you falsely educate that these strangers are evil and out to destroy all that is good. Then you rally up support for attacks.

    I bet this lady was surrounded by people who with leaders who said this lady was evil and threating their good society and must be destroyed. Good for them.


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