Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A religion of peace...?

Gillian Gibbons is a 54 year-old British national who has been working as a teacher in Sudan since August. She teaches a class of 7 year-old children. Part of a recent class project involved choosing a name for the class teddy bear. Gibbons allowed the children to decide, and they ultimately decided to name the cute lil' teddy "Mohammed". Sounds nice, huh? A bunch of little kids naming an adorable bear after a prominent mythological figure. Awesome.

Sadly, Sudan lives under Sharia law. Gibbons has been arrested for insulting and/or cultivating hatred for the state religion. The crime is punishable by up to 40 lashes and up to a year in jail. The Brits aren't getting as fired up about this as they probably ought to be, and frankly the Sudanese officials involved just keep spouting off platitudes about how sentencing is far off in the future and how anything could happen.

So just what's going on here? Why aren't the children who named the bear being brought to task rather than the teacher? Hell, why is anyone being being punished for something so silly? I think we see not only the evils of a fundamentalist religious constitution at work here, but also probably a heaping helping for misogyny and disdain for westerners as well. We must especially remember that the Koran itself doesn't even ban depicting images of the prophet Mohammed, nevermind naming cute, cuddly teddies after him.

Once again, we see that the strongest force in the world for cultivating disrespect and hatred for a religion is religion itself, its actions unrestrained and unquestioned, as it glories in its own intolerance and cruelty.

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