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If you go down to the woods today.....

For topics that are more about faith, religion and religious organisations than anything else.
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Lifelinking
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If you go down to the woods today.....

#1 Post by Lifelinking » November 26th, 2007, 10:41 pm

you find the story, which most of you will no doubt have seen, about a teacher jailed because she allowed the children in her class to use the name Mohammed when they were asked to name a Teddy Bear.



'Muhammad' teddy teacher arrested
A British schoolteacher has been arrested in Sudan accused of insulting Islam's Prophet, after she allowed her pupils to name a teddy bear Muhammad.
Colleagues of Gillian Gibbons, 54, from Liverpool, said she made an "innocent mistake" by letting the six and seven-year-olds choose the name.

Ms Gibbons was arrested after several parents made complaints.

The BBC has learned the charge could lead to six months in jail, 40 lashes or a fine.

Officials from the British embassy in Khartoum are expected to visit Ms Gibbons in custody later.

"We are in contact with the authorities here and they have visited the teacher and she is in a good condition," an embassy spokesman said.

The spokesman said the naming of the teddy happened months ago and was chosen by the children because it is a common name in the country.

"This happened in September and the parents did not have a problem with it," he said.

'Very sensitive'

The school has been closed until January for fear of reprisals.

Fellow teachers at Khartoum's Unity High School told Reuters news agency they feared for Ms Gibbons' safety after receiving reports that men had started gathering outside the police station where she was being held.

The school's director, Robert Boulos, said: "This is a very sensitive issue. We are very worried about her safety.


They came up with eight names including Abdullah, Hassan and Muhammad
Robert Boulos
Director of Unity High School

"This was a completely innocent mistake. Miss Gibbons would have never wanted to insult Islam."

Mr Boulos said Ms Gibbons was following a British national curriculum course designed to teach young pupils about animals and this year's topic was the bear.

Ms Gibbons, who joined the school in August, asked a seven-year-old girl to bring in her teddy bear and asked the class to pick names for it, he said.

"They came up with eight names including Abdullah, Hassan and Muhammad," Mr Boulos said, adding that she then had the children vote on a name.

Twenty out of the 23 children chose Muhammad as their favourite name.

Mr Boulos said each child was then allowed to take the bear home at weekends and told to write a diary about what they did with it.

He said the children's entries were collected in a book with a picture of the bear on the cover and a message which read, "My name is Muhammad."

Book seized

The bear itself was not marked or labelled with the name in any way, he added.

It is seen as an insult to Islam to attempt to make an image of the Prophet Muhammad.

Mr Boulos said Ms Gibbons was arrested on Sunday at her home inside the school premises after a number of parents complained to Sudan's Ministry of Education.


I know Gillian and she would never have meant it as an insult. I was just impressed that she got them to vote
Muslim colleague in Sudan

He said police had seized the book and asked to interview the girl who owned the bear.

The country's state-controlled Sudanese Media Centre reported that charges were being prepared "under article 125 of the criminal law" which covers insults against faith and religion.

No-one at the ministries of education or justice was available for comment.

Mr Boulos told the BBC he was confident she would not face a jail sentence.

One Muslim teacher at the independent school for Christian and Muslim children, who has a child in Ms Gibbons' class, said she had not found the project offensive.

"I know Gillian and she would never have meant it as an insult. I was just impressed that she got them to vote," the teacher said.

In Liverpool, a family spokeswoman said Ms Gibbons' grown children, John and Jessica - both believed to be in their 20s - were not commenting on her arrest.


"I have spoken with her children and they do not want to say anything and aggravate the situation over there," she said.

Rick Widdowson the headteacher of Garston Church of England Primary School, where Gillian worked for ten years, added: "We are an Anglican school and I know for a fact that Gillian would not do anything to offend followers of any faith.

"Certainly she is also very worldly wise and she is obviously aware of the sensitivities around Islam."

Cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad printed in several European newspapers sparked violent protests around the world in 2006.

Story from BBC NEWS:

I hope the consular team manage to negotiate this teacher's release. The possible punishments are very extreme, and the 'crime' quite mad, but also sadly predictable in a regime of this sort.





L
"Who thinks the law has anything to do with justice? It's what we have because we can't have justice."
William McIlvanney

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Alan H
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#2 Post by Alan H » November 26th, 2007, 11:26 pm

Unbelievable, isn't it?

Muhammad (including spelling variations) was the second most popular boy's name in the UK last year.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
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Thomas
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#3 Post by Thomas » November 27th, 2007, 7:04 am

Insane. Part of me wonders if it's her introducing the children to the concept of democracy and allowing them a choice that riled the fanatics so much.

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Alan H
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#4 Post by Alan H » November 27th, 2007, 10:26 am

Thomas wrote:Insane. Part of me wonders if it's her introducing the children to the concept of democracy and allowing them a choice that riled the fanatics so much.
You could be right! The story is all over the papers today, including the full front page of the Metro. The story makes the Sudanese look like ridiculous fanatics.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

Staf
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#5 Post by Staf » November 27th, 2007, 10:53 am

'Insane' is how to describe someone from European democracy going to live and work in a country with a military dictatorship, terrible record for human rights abuse and sharia law.

How can she not realize that there maybe is a problem calling a toy this name? I can't imagine what kind of preparation she received before being sent to this country or allowed to teach in this school but it doesn't sound adequate. It sounds like she expected to be able to teach in a completely British way without problem. How naive.

Of course they are fanatics and lunatics. I really fear for her.

GPJ
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#6 Post by GPJ » November 28th, 2007, 1:01 am

Can we get a manufacturer to bring out a "Mo Bear" for christmas?

It could go down a bomb!
George Jelliss

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Lifelinking
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#7 Post by Lifelinking » November 29th, 2007, 8:30 pm

sentenced to 15 days in Jail
"Who thinks the law has anything to do with justice? It's what we have because we can't have justice."
William McIlvanney

spade
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Maybe, maybe not ...

#8 Post by spade » November 29th, 2007, 10:25 pm

Staf wrote:How can she not realize that there maybe is a problem calling a toy this name?
Maybe she did? Sometimes it is necessary to risk something and take a stance. Remember Rosa Parks ...
This issue is ridiculous enough to make at least some liberals in Sudan think twice about their beliefs and laws ...

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Re: Maybe, maybe not ...

#9 Post by Alan H » November 29th, 2007, 11:12 pm

spade wrote:Maybe she did?
It's difficult to know. However, she had only been there a few months. To be honest, although never having had to think about this before and never having lived in a Muslim country, would have it occurred to anyone outside Sudan, etc that naming a bear Mohammed would have caused so much fuss - particularly when so many boys also share that name?

At least many Muslims in this country appear to be condemning the sentence.
********************************************************************************
BBC NEWS | UK | Teddy row teacher verdict reaction
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7119917.stm
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

DR MUHAMMAD ABDUL BARI, MUSLIM COUNCIL OF BRITAIN

This case should have required only simple common sense to resolve. It is unfortunate that the Sudanese authorities were found wanting in this most basic of qualities.

They grossly overreacted in this sad affair. Gillian should never have been arrested, let alone charged and convicted of committing a crime.

We hope that Gillian will be able to return home without much further delay.
(What's this? Common sense from the MCB?)
What the next thing that's going to upset Muslims so much? :puzzled:
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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#10 Post by Alan C. » November 29th, 2007, 11:38 pm

Alan H
What the next thing that's going to upset Muslims so much?
I've just re-named my Piggy bank.
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

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Alan H
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#11 Post by Alan H » November 29th, 2007, 11:44 pm

:hilarity:
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

I Am That I Am
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#12 Post by I Am That I Am » November 30th, 2007, 1:29 am

When the Muslim Council of Britain start speaking sense you know a situation has to be particularly bad. I am now waiting for a serious response from our government but I doubt that the spineless appeasing politicians at Whitehall will come good. I personally feel outraged at what has happened to Gillian Gibbons in Sudan and I don't want to see or hear anything less than a response of outrage from our government. We'll see soon won't we...

A bunch of Sudanese officials and some wealthy Muslim parents have managed to create more bad press for Islam through their ignorance and stupidity than anyone else could have managed, effectively shooting themselves in their big fat lame Islamic feet. I congratulate them on their impressive act of idiocy as it far exceeds anything, accidental or otherwise, that Ms. Gibbons could ever have done on her own to boost the growing contempt for Islam in non-Islamic cultures.
AKA Mick

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#13 Post by jaywhat » November 30th, 2007, 5:56 am

It is not all the Sudanese. of course. It is few politico-religious nutters in Khartoum.
Remember that the southern half of Sudan is sort of tribo-christian.

In the north they are mainly muslim and many are liberal and humorous and friendly. I taught there for 3 years and would say that they are among the most friendly people you could meet.

I am not excusing sharia law or what is happening in Darfur or in the south. There was vitually civil war there when I was there and the three southern districts where always closed off to outsiders. That was in the 60s - so plus ca change.

I remember I was prepared for the experience of going to the Sudan (it was 'the' then) by the British Council. I cannot imagine that that would not still be so.
But we wore what we wanted when we wanted and we bought pork in Wad Medani.

There was a Sudanese 'joke' at the time - it being the biggest and the poorest country in Africa - and probably still is both.

"God created the Sudan - then he laughed."

ArbitraryMarks
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Wondering

#14 Post by ArbitraryMarks » November 30th, 2007, 3:42 pm

Does anyone else wonder what it is that has caused some parts of Islam to respond so violently to "sacrilege" like this, when Christianity has no problem marketing the name of Jesus and slapping it on action figures, bumper stickets, etc?

There have been violent debates about icons in Christian history and some sects still think that even envisioning Jesus in his human form breaks one of the Ten Commandments. But there aren't currently violent responses, or am I wrong?

Is is the institutionalization of religion, the lack of equivalent developments in Islam like the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, or something else? Seems worth considering.
(You can also call me "ck" for short)

"Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language." ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein

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#15 Post by Lifelinking » November 30th, 2007, 7:45 pm

It is indeed worth considering CK.

One of my favourite quotes regarding this very subject is the following from Salman Rushdie.
"Traditional Islam is a broad church that certainly includes millions of tolerant, civilized men and women but also encompasses many whose views on women's rights are antediluvian, who think of homosexuality as ungodly, who have little time for real freedom of expression, who routinely express anti-Semitic views and who, in the case of the Muslim diaspora, are -- it has to be said -- in many ways at odds with the Christian, Hindu, non-believing or Jewish cultures among which they live. ......... What is needed is a move beyond tradition -- nothing less than a reform movement to bring the core concepts of Islam into the modern age, a Muslim Reformation to combat not only the jihadist ideologues but also the dusty, stifling seminaries of the traditionalists, throwing open the windows to let in much-needed fresh air."

Excerpt from "The Right Time for An Islamic Reformation", Published in the Washington Post, Sunday, August 7, 2005

I see from the BBC that there have been 'demonstrations' in Khartoum calling for a more severe sentence. I suspect that these will have been arranged and orchestrated by a few fanatical individuals and groups. :sad:




L
"Who thinks the law has anything to do with justice? It's what we have because we can't have justice."
William McIlvanney

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#16 Post by Alan C. » November 30th, 2007, 7:59 pm

GPJ
Can we get a manufacturer to bring out a "Mo Bear" for christmas?
They were being offered for sale here earlier today, but they have now been closed down.
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

ArbitraryMarks
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#17 Post by ArbitraryMarks » November 30th, 2007, 8:07 pm

Check it out on Google Products: http://www.google.com/products?hl=en&q= ... =N&tab=wf?. There are a whole bunch of variations you can get. I like "Property of Muhammed" which I guess wouldn't be considered blasphemous?
(You can also call me "ck" for short)

"Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language." ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein

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#18 Post by Alan C. » November 30th, 2007, 8:37 pm

I've got something I'd like to say to ALL the sky fairies.


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gregory
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#19 Post by gregory » December 1st, 2007, 10:31 am

Poor ole sky fairies (I thought Humanists believed in equal opportunities)

You could call a teddy Mo (after Mo Mowlam) but what I thought of doing was to call all teddies Jesus and see what happens - could be fun.
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clayto
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Teddy Bears

#20 Post by clayto » December 1st, 2007, 6:58 pm

But what about the non-theistic secular Teddy Bears ---- don't they have a right NOT to be called M or J or whatever? Should I start a HVG campaign on their behalf?

Chris
clayto

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