In Sudan, foolish teacher Gillian Gibbons (foolish because she really should have known better, despite the fact that, from any sane standpoint, she committed no crime), has been given 15 days in jail for allegedly naming a teddy-bear after the prophet Mohammed. In a country that routinely abuses and tortures its own citizens for no very good reason, she got off unexpectedly lightly.
Concerning this case, a prominent Muslim said on Radio 2 that he’s tired of the demonisation of Islam by the West (in response to media coverage of this farce). My response to that (though it wasn’t read out on air), was that Islam doesn’t need the help of the West in its demonisation – it accomplishes that all by itself. Take the positively rabid reaction to the 15-day sentence in Khartoum, which is positively scary. What the hell’s wrong with these people – no crime has been committed and 15 days, while extremely moderate compared with what she could have got, more than purges her “offence”.
Mind you, one “moderate” British Muslim, again on Radio 2, had the temerity to say that death was a more appropriate penalty (an opinion that’s rapidly gaining ground in Sudan, according to the latest news). Give me a break – it’s a sodding teddy-bear named after one of the kids in the class, for pity’s sake.
We are repeatedly told by Islamic scholars that Islam is a religion of peace, tolerance and justice, but across the Islamic world there is precious little evidence of this. Where Islamic, especially Sharia, writ runs unopposed you’re more likely to get paranoia, intolerance and injustice than anything else – especially if you’re a woman.
Take Ms. Gibbons’ “offence”. She was accused of permitting the naming a teddy-bear after the prophet (who is doubtless turning in his grave at the atrocities committed in his name), but she didn’t. The bear was named after one of the kids in the class – the bear was named after him, not Mohammed the prophet (but she should still have known better – anyone with the slightest knowledge of Islam would have seen this coming) – a difference the authorities and many people in Sudan seem incapable of understanding. Or they don’t want to understand, which, I believe, is closer to the truth.