Tell me this is not typical of Muslims… Please.


By ALFRED de MONTESQUIOU, Associated Press Writer

KHARTOUM, Sudan – Sudan charged a British teacher Wednesday with inciting religious hatred after she allowed her students to name a teddy bear Muhammad, an offense that could subject her to 40 lashes, the Justice Ministry said.

The charge against Gillian Gibbons was sure to heighten tensions between Sudan and Britain. In London, Foreign Secretary David Miliband urgently summoned the Sudanese ambassador to discuss the case, the British government said.

Gibbons, 54, was arrested Sunday after some of her pupils’ parents complained, accusing her of naming the bear after Islam’s prophet. 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.

Prosecutor General Salah Eddin Abu Zaid said Gibbons was charged under article 125 of the Sudanese legal code and her case would be referred to court Thursday.

If convicted, she faces up to 40 lashes, six months and prison and a fine, said Abdul Daem Zumrawi, the Justice Ministry’s undersecretary.

“What will be applied is (at) the discretionary power of the judge to issue the verdict,” he was quoted as saying by the official Sudanese News Agency.

The meeting between Miliband and the Sudanese ambassador to discuss the charge against Gibbons would take place as soon as possible, according to the British Foreign Office.

“We are surprised and disappointed by this development and the Foreign Secretary will summon as a matter of urgency the Sudanese ambassador to discuss the matter further,” said Michael Ellam, a spokesman for British Prime Minister Gordon Brown‘s office.

Miliband would ask the “for the rationale behind the charges and a sense of what the next steps might be” amid an escalating diplomatic dispute in the case, he said.

“We will consider our response in the light of that,” Ellam said.

The Gibbons family declined to speak with The Associated Press, saying the British government had advised them not to comment to the media.

In Khartoum, the British Embassy said diplomats had been allowed to visit Gibbons on Wednesday. “She said she was being well-treated and that she was OK,” said embassy spokesman Omar Daair.

Gibbons was teaching her pupils, who are around age 7, about animals and asked one of them to bring in her teddy bear, said Robert Boulos, a spokesman for Unity High School in Khartoum. She asked the students to pick names for it and they proposed Abdullah, Hassan and Muhammad, and in September, 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.

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.

Several Sudanese newspapers ran a statement Tuesday reportedly from the school, 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.”

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.”

Although Khartoum officials played down the case and said it was an isolated incident, Sudan’s top clerics said in a statement Wednesday that the full measure of the law should be applied against Gibbons, calling the incident part of a broader Western “plot” against Islam.

Northern Sudan’s legal system is based on Islam’s Sharia law, which harshly punishes blasphemy. Any depiction of the prophet is forbidden in Islam, for fear it would provoke idolatry. Caricatures of Muhammad in some European media last year sparked riots in several Muslim countries.

The Sudanese clerics said this was blasphemy and believed it was intentional.

“What has happened was not haphazard or carried out of ignorance, but rather a calculated action and another ring in the circles of plotting against Islam,” the Sudanese Assembly of the Ulemas said the statement.

“It is part of the campaign of the so-called war against terrorism and the intense media campaign against Islam,” they said.

Although an earlier report had suggested that only one parent had complained, the clergy statement Wednesday said that several had complained.

There were widespread calls in Britain for Gibbons’ release. The Muslim Council of Britain urged the Sudanese government to intervene.


This makes me ill.  I pray that this type of behavior isn’t typical of Muslims. 

About Shelbi

Work-at-home wife, mom of three kids, and caregiver for my brother, who has Cerebral Palsy. Never a dull moment, in other words. No idea how much I'll post, since I'm super busy these days, but maybe I'll get over here once in a while.

6 responses »

  1. No more than the torturers of the Inquisition were typical of Christians. All faiths have thugs that murder, rape and loot in their name.

  2. Yeah, that’s true. I guess I am just wondering if the various rumors I hear about Islam are true: that the Koran really orders Muslims to kill anyone who disrespects their religion.

    They seem to act a lot like the early Hebrews, and early Christians, what with their jihad and all that [reminds me of the crusades] but I am a Christian, and I know that the Bible was misinterpreted to justify the crusades, so I’m wondering if the Koran has been misinterpreted to justify the various militant Muslim groups.

    I don’t have access to a copy of the Koran, so I don’t know what it really says… hence the question.

  3. I’ve studied Islam in recent years (it is supposed to be a topic of my diploma). 1) Yes, Koran promise heaven only to those who died in the sacred war agains all unbelievers (jihad is one of main pillars of Islam), and though early Koran makes exception to Christians, later Koran verses negate it. 2) Yes, this behaviour is tipical for Islamic countries. I know a professor of muslim theology who is very glad that he lives in Russia, not in some muslim country. What muslims say in the West and what they say in their countries is very different.

    Here is example of a study, i don’t know if it’s good or not, just took the first out of

    As for Inquisition, the context is very different. We could take an excursus into history if somebody wishes. The main difference is that in Islam religion and state are the same entity, while in Christianity they are fundamentally different – our Kingdom of God (sometimes translated as Kingdom of Heaven, but that’s not precise) is not of this world and never will be.

  4. > As for Inquisition, the context is very different.
    1. The worst Inquisition was established by secular authorities, not by the Church.
    2. The Inquisition was a tool of achieving political, not religious means.
    3. Papal heresy (Roman Catholic Church) has tried to establish itself as a state at that time, which stimulated Inquisition, but is incompatible with Christian beliefs.
    4. In some countries, Inquisition was established as a response to similar organ (with a similar name) of Katars, which purpose was to eleminate Roman Catholic and other political figures. Katars themself most probably acquired they means from a sect of Ismaily, a branch of Shia (second largest muslim party), largely known as “Assasins”.

  5. The modern day notion of a unified and horrible “Inquisition” is an assemblage of the “body of legends and myths which, between the sixteenth and the twentieth centuries, established the perceived character of inquisitorial tribunals and influenced all ensuing efforts to recover their historical reality” (Peters 1988: 122).

    In the year 2000, Pope John Paul II called for an “Inquisition Symposium”, and opened the Vatican to 30 external historians. What they found discounted many exaggerated facts previously believed. It was learned that more women accused of witchcraft died in the Protestant countries than under the Inquisition. For example, the Inquisition burned 59 women in Spain, 36 in Italy and 4 in Portugal, while in Europe *civil justice* put to trial close to 100,000 women; 50,000 of them were burned, 25,000 in Germany, during the XVI century by the followers of Martin Luther.

  6. Heathen nations, especially Kelts, believed in witchcraft and had superstitious means of identifiying the witches and history of their execution. The horrors of that age, as shown by earlier facts and sources, could not be attributed to the Church. Instead, the barbarism of nations of Western Europe should be considered. The level of education was indeed horrible in Western Europe, where often even kings couldn’t *write their name*. Black Death, which killed third of Europe, hadn’t helped the former heathens and formal Christians to keep their minds either.

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