Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A "Blasphemous" Teddy Bear in Sudan

On Sunday, officials in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum arrested a 54 year old British schoolteacher named Gillian Gibbons on charges of blasphemy. Her crime: allowing her class of six and seven year old pupils to name a teddy bear Mohammed. Rob Crilly of Time lays out the Kafkaesque yet terrifying circumstances Ms. Gibbons and her colleagues find themselves in:

Now Gillian Gibbons, 54, is spending her second night in a Sudanese prison, accused of insulting Islam's Prophet. She faces a public lashing or up to six months in prison if found guilty on charges of blasphemy. And Unity High School — one of a number of exclusive British-run schools in the Sudanese capital — has been closed as staff fear reprisals from Islamic extremists. Robert Boulos, the school's director, said the incident had been blown out of all proportion, but added that the school would remain closed until January to let ill feelings blow over.

"This was a completely innocent mistake," he said in an office decorated with sepia photographs dating back to the school's colonial heyday. "Miss Gibbons would have never wanted to insult Islam."

Police raided the school, where Gibbons also lives, on Sunday.

"We tried to reason with them but we felt they were coming under strong pressure from Islamic courts," said Boulus. "There were men with big beards asking where she was and saying they wanted to kill her."

(Emphasis added-DD)

Wanting to murder a 54 year old teacher because of what her students decided to name a stuffed animal. Nothing I write can make the barbarism of radical Islamists any clearer.


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