Imagine being jailed simply for calling a stuffed animal "Jesus" or "Buddha". It would never occur in the west, but change locales and switch the name to "Muhammad" and that's exactly what happened to a British schoolteacher in the mess of a country called Sudan.
Gillian Gibbons, a teacher at the private British International, Unity High School in Khartoum (where both Christians and Muslims are taught an English curriculum) was arrested on Sunday for insulting Islam. Her crime: allowing her pupils to name a fuzzy little teddy bear Muhammad.
For a school project about bears, children were asked to choose a name for a teddy bear that one 7-year-old girl brought in to share with the others. They would each be allowed to take home this adopted stuffed animal on weekends, and were asked to write a diary about what they did with it. The 6 and 7-year-olds chose 8 commonly used names including Hassan, Abdullah and, yes, the infamous Muhammad. 20 of the 23 students fancied the latter, so the bear was duly named Muhammad. A compilation of the diary entries were bound together, and a picture of the bear with "My name is Muhammad" graced the cover of the book.
This was back in September, and according to a British Embassy spokesman the parents had no problems with the bear being named Muhammad at that time. And there is no indication as to why, months later, several parents decided to complain to the authorities, which then led to Gibbon's wholly, unwarranted arrest.
Rabie Atti (a Sudanese government spokesman) has said:
"If she is innocent, she will be set free."adding
"I hope she didn't mean what the people thought."In other words, that she willfully, and consciously chose to insult Islam. As though someone would be stupid enough to offend "the Prophet" in a predominately Muslim country. I think not. He does concede that she might not have meant to offend Islam, but that if she did, she will be punished.
For this innocent infraction of an absurd Islamic law, she could receive a 6 month jail term, a fine or 40 lashes!
Don't you just love a civilized, modern justice system!
There is now talk that a fellow teacher (from a conservative family in Khartoum) filed the complaint. Was someone jealous of this new teacher? Gibbons just started the 1st of a 2 year stint in Sudan, and was apparently well liked by all.
Gillian Gibbons has been charged with inciting hatred towards Islam! Ironically when the Muslim world does these kinds of things, they do exactly that! She faces 4o lashes.