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November 27, 2007
British Teacher in Sudan in Trouble over Naming of a Teddy Bear
This is one of those stories that after reading it, you have to stop and look around in order to make sure you're still in the 21st century:
A British teacher facing 40 lashes in Sudan over a school teddy bear named Muhammad will discover today whether she will be charged with blasphemy. It seems that Mrs. Gibbons initiated a class project on how animals live. As part of the project, she acquired a teddy bear and had the class name the toy with the kid's choice being "Mohammed." This didn't sit well with some practioners of the Religion of Perpetual Outrage:
Gillian Gibbons, 54, is being questioned for a second day by police in Khartoum on suspicion of insulting Islam's prophet for allowing her seven-year-old pupils to give the toy the name of the prophet.
According to the Sudanese Media Centre, which is closely associated with the government, the attorney-general's office had opened proceedings against Ms Gibbons "under article 125 of the criminal law (insult of faith and religions)". Perhaps Mrs. Gibbons should thank her lucky stars she doesn't live in Saudi Arabia. A court in that benighted country just sentenced a rape victim to 90 lashes for "immodesty."
It quoted Mutusim Abdallah, who heads the attorney's office, as saying that she printed the name of the Prophet on the bear. "Then she wrote letters to student guardians telling them that they should receive a doll on which the name Muhammad is printed," he said.
"However this event was met with wide condemnation by guardians of the students." Under Sudan's Sharia law, the punishment for blasphemy is 40 lashes, although the teacher could also be fined or jailed for up to six months.