Comments:British teacher convicted of insulting Islam in Sudan

Back to article

Wikinews commentary.svg

This page is for commentary on the news. If you wish to point out a problem in the article (e.g. factual error, etc), please use its regular collaboration page instead. Comments on this page do not need to adhere to the Neutral Point of View policy. You should sign your comments by adding ~~~~ to the end of your message. Please remain on topic. Though there are very few rules governing what can be said here, civil discussion and polite sparring make our comments pages a fun and friendly place. Please think of this when posting.

Quick hints for new commentators:

  • Use colons to indent a response to someone else's remarks
  • Always sign your comments by putting --~~~~ at the end
  • You can edit a section by using the edit link to the right of the section heading


As a non-muslim, I'm puzzled how naming something Muhammad can be an insult to the faith of muslims. Are the parents who name their boy Muhammad also insulting the faith? and if not, why not? 87.112.21.129 07:41, 30 November 2007 (UTC)

I think it's the same reason why several Christian churches strictly-speaking prohibit depictions of God. I think the name is acceptable, after all Muhammed is, and probably was at the time, a common name. Jesu is also a common name in several parts of the world. But perhaps naming an object Muhammed is seen as the equivalent of the veneration of icons.--Ganchelkas 08:24, 30 November 2007 (UTC)
I think Ganchelkas is probably right. Some Christian groups have "no idols" clauses in stark contrast to Catholicism where images portraying Jesus on the cross or Mary are common. And, while it might be common in some countries for children to be named Jesus or Mohammed, naming an object similarly would be frowned upon. --Brian McNeil / talk 08:39, 30 November 2007 (UTC)

It does seem to me there are many ways in which The Prophet, and Islam, can be insulted. Is there a guide for non-muslims as how to avoid causing offence? 87.112.21.129 14:37, 30 November 2007 (UTC)

This is ridiclious. You can't execute people because they name a Teddy bear something that you don't like. These people need to open up their minds up and stop being such ignorant asses. Learn to tolerate stuff like that because it won't be the last time you see it. (209.7.171.66 14:40, 30 November 2007 (UTC))
Why not? It is up to the country's law makers to decide what is legal and what is not, and to set the penalities for breaking those laws. For example, Singapore has a mandatory death sentence for drug smuggling and very stiff penalites for littering and other so-called minor crimes. However, the Singapore government makes such variations from the "norm" widely known to visitors (big signs at the airort, and so on). The failing by Sudan, is how their laws vary from the "norm" is not widely known. It seems very easy for a naieve visitor to inadvertently cause offence.
Incidentally, language such as calling "these people" "ignorant asses" is very intolerant and should not be used in a public forum. 87.112.21.129 15:04, 30 November 2007 (UTC)
It's called common sense. Just because it's law, doesn't mean it's not stupid. 124.188.168.143 14:03, 1 December 2007 (UTC)
and it's up to everyone to criticise countries that have ridiculous and unjust laws. by your argument the laws in nazi germany, stalin's russia, pol pot's cambodia were ok because it's up to those countries' law makers to decide what is legal and what is not.--212.183.134.129 19:24, 30 November 2007 (UTC)

We often hear about the muslim belief in a conspiracy against Islam. For example, in this case the Assembly of the Ulemas said it was "another ring in the circles of plotting against Islam". Is there any evidence of such a plot? 87.112.21.129 14:43, 30 November 2007 (UTC)

I don't get it. Muslims routinely name themselves Mohammed, so does that mean they are attempting to depict the Prophet Mohammed? Is there an Islamic law that says that only human beings should be named Mohammed? I think any fair minded person can see that this is a disgusting and ignorant act from the Sudanese Judiciary/Government... but is there anyone familiar with Islamic law that can explain to me what precept in Islam they could have been using to find this woman guilty? Email me please. wangst@gmail.com

What is your problem 87.112.21.129? Is it ok make a law against wearing blue t-shirts if I advertise it on every street corner? You seem to completely misunderstand the universal outpouring of anger that accompanies cases like this. Let me give you a hint. It is not because the Sudanese Dictatorship is inefficient. If the super efficient but entirely despotic Singaporean government wants to kill people for trying to bring drugs into Singapore I will think that is repugnant and disgusting until my dying breath. The same goes for the arbitrarily applied laws of Sudan. This tendency I see in you and others to forgive the most heinous crimes against humanity in the name "understanding and tolerance" while less disgusting is perhaps even more dangerous than the heinous crimes in question. wangst@gmail.com

Yes, however ridiculous it may seem to us, it is OK to make a law against the wearing of blue t-shirts, if a large proportion of the country's population is offended by it. Issuing advice to foreigners, that blue t-shirts are offensive, would be a good idea to reduce inadvertant trangressions of that law. Supposing I was to visit your country and commit a crime, would the laws of your country not apply to me just because I'm a foreign visitor? Of course not! I could expect to be convicted in one of your courts and then deported. The problem is that visitors too often think the country's laws somehow don't apply to them. Even if you consider some laws or punishments disgusting breaches of human rights, that does not mean you should get away with breaking those laws when you visit. In no court has "I'm a foreigner", "I didn't think that was illegal" or "I think that law is ridiculous", been a valid defence.
In this particular case, the court found Ms Gibbons guilty of "insulting the faith of Muslims". Where Sudanese law has let her down, is in the interpretation of what counts as insulting. However, once this precedent had been decided, the judge rejected calls for the stronger charge of "inciting religious hatred", which carries a punishment of up to 40 lashes, 6 months in prison and a fine. Perhaps if Ms Gibbons had been better advised about local cultural sensitivities before taking the teaching job, this would not have happened. Perhaps if the school secretary had said to her "I really don't think calling the teddy bear Mohammed is a good idea - it could upset people around here", instead of going to the education ministry, this would not have happened.
What has gone seriously wrong, is for the Sudanese government to use this minor incident to deflect attention away from Darfur; for the immams to denounce Ms Gibbon and for protestors to fill the streets of Khartoum chanting "kill her". It is for these reasons that Ms Gibbons is quite rightly a prisoner of conscience and should be released immediately so she can go home.
I think the death penalty is wrong in all cases. The laws of nazi Germany were wrong. The laws of Stalin's USSR were wrong. The laws of Pol-Pot were wrong. And in muslim countries, the laws protecting islam are often wrong. But, I would go out of my way to avoid falling foul of such laws by learning about where I was visiting and having an appreciation for the culture and for the current legal climate, rather than ignoring the law and applying my own different standards of right and wrong.
87.112.21.129 13:09, 1 December 2007 (UTC)
Actually UN member states are obliged to follow the UDHR. So it is not really a case of people THINKING it is a disgusting breach of Human Rights, it actually is. Freedom of expression is allowed under article 19 of the UDHR. This reaction has been utterly disgusting and uncalled for, and it just shows how pathetic religious fundamentalists are, and how dangerous religious dogma can be.
Patrick Smith 1:17, 3 December 2007 (UTC)

WTFEdit

Haha, oh god, this is just pathetic. What the hell has humanity come to? 124.188.168.143 14:01, 1 December 2007 (UTC)

Teddy bears and toiletsEdit

My emotional reaction to the verdict was to name my toilet Muhammad. I have calmed down and will now be content to let it remain under its given name: American Standard. Is that an insult to America? —71.108.120.11 18:52, 1 December 2007 (UTC)

Terrorist activities to engage in with a toilet...
(1) stop water flow into toilet and empty cistern.
(2) Empty bowl.
(3) Fill bowl with Mentos.
(4) Fill cistern with Diet Coke.
Stand *well* back. :D --Brian McNeil / talk 19:15, 1 December 2007 (UTC)

SadEdit

I can't believe this. The teacher just allowed it. The kids really named the teddy and I really believe the court knows they had no ill intent. They're just trying please some short-sighted, ill-informed fundamentalists. What's so bad about kids naming a toy? And if depicting the prophet is such a bad thing, then how come naming your child Muhammad is allowed? I have never seen someone convicted for naming their child. - 87.211.75.45 23:06, 1 December 2007 (UTC)

I totally agree. It's such a hilariously stupid but sad story. The people who prosecuted her are an insult to Islam, not Ms Gibbons. I bet a lot of Muslims are angry that they're being given such a bad name because of this. And for them to talk about her "inciting religious hatred"?! Jprulestheworld (talk) 07:56, 17 February 2009 (UTC)