Saturday, December 01, 2007

Common Sense Does Not Exist in Sudan

School teacher Gillian Gibbons, 54, from Liverpool, England, was jailed for 15 days in Sudan recently after “allowing” her class of primary school pupils to name a teddy bear “Muhammad” as part of a study of animals and their habitats.

In response to this sentence up to a thousand marchers turned out in Martyrs Square outside the presidential palace in the capital after Friday prayers to denounce the sentence as too lenient, many of them carrying knives and sticks. Some reports said protesters had called for her to be shot. Her lawyer said she was later moved for her own safety. Some of the protesters reportedly chanted: "Shame, shame on the UK," "No tolerance - execution" and "Kill her, kill her by firing squad.”

One demonstrator told reporters that it was unacceptable to take a toy and call it “Muhammad.” Question: Can no one or no thing be called "Muhammad" in the Muslim world?"

It isn’t clear exactly how this occurred, but from the reports it seems that rather than Mrs. Gibbons encouraging the children to name the teddy bear “Muhammed,” the children suggested that name and Mrs. Gibbons okayed it. That may not be correct, but it really doesn’t matter. This is yet another example of religious zeal taken to the level of absurdity.

Some Muslims have a hypersensitivity to anything that even remotely resembles negativity toward their religion. This hypersensitivity sometimes crosses the line into obsessiveness and even lunacy. This is one of those times. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, said he could not "see any justification" for the sentence, calling it an "absurdly disproportionate response" to a "minor cultural faux pas." He is absolutely correct.

From this situation it would not be unreasonable to believe that the Muslims in Sudan do not possess the ability to think. Their actions and words certainly support that idea. It would certainly be appropriate to allow for the possibility that Mrs. Gibbons intended no offense. It would not be unreasonable to imagine that this “horrible offense” was merely an accident of cultural differences, as the Archbishop suggested. But no, the Muslims in Sudan leapt immediately to the conclusion that this school teacher and her young Muslim students intended to insult the prophet. [Ooops! I forgot to capitalize “prophet.” Will I be the target of the rage of extreme Muslims?]

As if the situation with Mrs. Givens were not sufficient evidence of Sudanese Muslim extremism, and patent idiocy, Mrs. Gibbons’ lawyer, a Sudanese Muslim himself, carries a weapon because he has received death threats, merely for representing this lady in court.

I know a few Muslims, and of those I don’t believe any of them hold these extreme views. That said, some of them were not outraged at the 9-11 attacks, and a couple of them seemed to be pleased that the US got hit. This seems not only strange, but more than a little dumb, given that they came here willingly to earn a good living providing healthcare to Americans. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.

I believe that those attitudes are due to some of the fundamental views of Islam toward non-Muslims. They may not support terrorism and other extremist activities such as this one, but neither do they condemn extremist activities.

Does that mean that most Muslim’s religions beliefs dominate all other aspects of their life? And if so, does that tell us anything about the tendency of Muslims to fight the terrorist tendencies of the Islamist extremists?

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