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Old 11-26-2007, 02:11 PM   #1
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Infidel Insults Islam, Gets Arrested

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A British schoolteacher has been arrested in Sudan accused of insulting Islam’s Prophet, after she allowed her pupils to name a teddy bear Muhammad.

Colleagues of Gillian Gibbons, 54, from Liverpool, said she made an “innocent mistake” by letting the six and seven-year-olds choose the name.

Ms Gibbons was arrested after several parents made complaints. A spokesman from the British Embassy in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, said it was unclear whether she had been charged. Embassy officials are expected to visit Ms Gibbons in custody later. “We are in contact with the authorities here and they have visited the teacher and she is in a good condition,” an embassy spokesman said.

The spokesman said the naming of the teddy happened months ago and was chosen by the children because it is a common name in the country. “This happened in September and the parents did not have a problem with it,” he said.

The BBC’s correspondent Amber Henshaw said Ms Gibbons’ punishment could be up to six months in jail, 40 lashes or a fine. ...

Fellow teachers at Khartoum’s Unity High School told Reuters news agency they feared for Ms Gibbons’ safety after receiving reports that men had started gathering outside the police station where she was being held.

The school’s director, Robert Boulos, said: “This is a very sensitive issue. We are very worried about her safety. This was a completely innocent mistake. Miss Gibbons would have never wanted to insult Islam.”

Mr Boulos said Ms Gibbons was following a British national curriculum course designed to teach young pupils about animals and this year’s topic was the bear.
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What a stupid law for protecting religion from defamation.
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Old 11-26-2007, 02:33 PM   #2
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Yes I'd say that's pretty wackadoodle-but they are not the only ones who are easily offended when it comes to their religion. Obviously it's taking it to an extreme to arrest someone for that, or jail them, or lash them.
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Old 11-26-2007, 02:47 PM   #3
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Pretty low on the scale for Sudan though.
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Old 11-26-2007, 04:38 PM   #4
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Wow. That's pretty out there. Seems like she meant no offense, so...yeah. Overreacting much?

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Old 11-26-2007, 09:29 PM   #5
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I wondering if international outcry and/or Britain's intervention would reduce her sentencing.
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Old 11-26-2007, 10:08 PM   #6
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In the actual case of an insult to Islam the international outcry was against the cartoonists.
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Old 11-26-2007, 10:19 PM   #7
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How do they justify naming Islamic children Muhammad then? Surely that's blasphemy aswell?
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Old 11-27-2007, 02:29 AM   #8
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Since the children chose the name, shouldn't they be the ones in jail?
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Old 11-27-2007, 11:04 AM   #9
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Please don't try to rationalize this...theocracy & logic are mutually exclusive.
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Old 11-27-2007, 11:29 AM   #10
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Wow.....a harsh sentence for an innocent act.
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Old 11-27-2007, 02:28 PM   #11
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I have to imagine that this is an act of deliberate nose-thumbing vengefulness on the Sudanese authorities' part. Even allowing for the possibility that a classroom teddy bear named Muhammad really is likely to offend the average Sudanese Muslim's sensibilities (and it's not at all clear from what I've read how strong that possibility actually is), still, the nature of the circumstances makes it obvious that any such offense (let alone law-breaking) couldn't possibly have been intentional on the teacher's part. So I have to imagine the authorities were looking for an opportunity to make an example of someone...which, unfortunately, may not bode well for a speedy and fair resolution of the case.
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Old 11-28-2007, 09:24 AM   #12
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Sudan: Teacher in bear case may be freed

By MOHAMED OSMAN, Associated Press WriterTue Nov 27, 8:00 PM ET

A British teacher arrested for allowing her students to name a teddy bear Muhammad will probably be cleared and released soon, a spokesman for the Sudanese embassy in London said Tuesday.

Gillian Gibbons was arrested Sunday and faced possible charges of insulting religion — a crime punishable by up to 40 lashes. She was questioned by Sudanese authorities on Tuesday.

"The police is bound to investigate," embassy spokesman Khalid al Mubarak told British Broadcasting Corp. radio. "I am pretty certain that this minute incident will be clarified very quickly and this teacher who has been helping us with the teaching of children will be safe and will be cleared."

Asked about the potential punishments — six months imprisonment or 40 lashes — he said: "My impression is that the whole thing could probably be settled amicably long before we reach stages like these ... Our relationship with Britain is so good that we wouldn't like such a minute event to be overblown."

Gibbons was arrested after one of her pupils' parents complained, accusing her of naming the bear after Islam's prophet and founder. Muhammad is a common name among Muslim men, but giving the prophet's name to an animal would be seen as insulting by many Muslims.

Sudan's United Nations ambassador, Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamad, said Tuesday that Sudanese authorities were concerned enough about the volatility of the situation to take steps to protect Gibbons' safety.

"We're careful and very concerned about her safety," Mohamad said in answer to a reporter's question. "I can assure you her safety, she will be very much protected, and no harm will ever come to her while we are protecting her."

Several Sudanese newspapers ran a statement Tuesday reportedly from Unity High School in Khartoum where Gibbons taught, saying the administration "offers an official apology to the students and their families and all Muslims for what came from an individual initiative." It said Gibbons had been "removed from her work at the school."

In the first official comment on the case, the Sudanese Foreign Ministry on Tuesday played down the significance of the case, calling it "isolated despite our condemnation and rejection of it."

Ministry spokesman Ali al-Sadeq said it was an incidence of a "teacher's misconduct against the Islamic faith" but noted the school's apology.

The statement from the school in newspapers called it a "misunderstanding." It underlined the school's "deep respect for the heavenly religions" and for the "beliefs of Muslims and their rituals."

The Arabic statement was not officially confirmed by the school. But a person reached by phone at the school who identified herself as an administrator said the statement was correct. She refused to give her name, citing the sensitivity of the situation.

She said the school has closed for at least the next week until the controversy eases. The Unity High School, a private English-language school with elementary to high school levels, was founded by Christian groups, but 90 percent of its students are Muslim, mostly from upper-class Sudanese families.

The school's director, Robert Boulos, told the British Broadcasting Corp. that the incident was "a completely innocent mistake. Miss Gibbons would have never wanted to insult Islam."

Gibbons, 54, was teaching her pupils, who are around age 7, about animals and asked one of them to bring in her teddy bear, Boulos said. She asked the students to pick names for it and they proposed Abdullah, Hassan and Muhammad, and in the end the pupils voted to name it Muhammad, he said.

Each child was allowed to take the bear home on weekends and write a diary about what they did with it. The diary entries were collected in a book with the bear's picture on the cover, labeled, "My Name is Muhammad," he said. The bear itself was never labeled with the name, he added.

A former colleague of Gibbons, Jill Langworthy, told The Associated Press the lesson is a common one in Britain.

"She's a wonderful and inspirational teacher, and if she offended or insulted anybody she'd be dreadfully sorry," said Langworthy, who taught with Gibbons in Liverpool.

There were widespread calls in Britain for Gibbons' release. The Muslim Council of Britain called upon the Sudanese government to intervene. British opposition Conservative party lawmaker William Hague called on the British government to "make it clear to the Sudanese authorities that she should be released immediately."

Omar Daair, spokesman for the British Embassy in Sudan, said embassy officials were in touch with Sudanese authorities and had met with Gibbons. He said he expected authorities to decide whether to bring her to court, and on what charges, within a few days.

"Her lawyer is trying to get her released on bail in the meanwhile," he said.

The case recalled the outrage that was sparked in the Islamic world when European newspapers ran cartoons deriding the Prophet Muhammad, prompting sometimes violent protests in many Muslim countries. Most interpretations of the religion bar even favorable depictions of the highly revered prophet, for fear of encouraging idolatry or misrepresenting him.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir this month suggested this month that he would ban Denmark, Sweden and Norway — where newspapers ran the cartoons — from contributing engineering personnel to a planned U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force in the Sudanese region of Darfur.

Al-Bashir's government already has tense relations with the West, which has widely condemned his regime for alleged abuses in Darfur where more than 200,000 people have died in a conflict that began in early 2003.
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Old 11-28-2007, 11:49 AM   #13
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http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/af...ars/index.html

Charged with "insulting religion" and "inciting hatred".

This is patently idiotic.
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Old 11-29-2007, 10:01 AM   #14
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Welcome to the middle east...
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Old 11-29-2007, 12:57 PM   #15
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Well, not all of the Middle East is that way. Turkey isn't. It's a secular state and religion isn't taught in the schools. There has been a huge controversy over headscarves. Some women wear them, but no one wears a veil. Women in Jordan don't have to wear veils or headscarves. I'm not sure how'd they take to naming a bear Mohammed, however.
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