Wednesday, November 28, 2007

This really pisses me off

A British teacher working in Sudan has been arrested and faces a possible forty lashes, prison or fine because she allowed the children in her school to pick the name 'Muhammad' for a teddy bear.

Now, I know that that not all Muslims get their knickers in a twist about perceived insults to the name of the prophet, and it's always possible that this will end well. But the very fact that it has occurred at all makes me despair for the future of the human race. How do you find common ground with people who think it is right and just to lash a woman forty times for anything? Let alone for simply asking the children in her class to suggest and then vote for a name for a teddy bear?

I'm reminded of the scene in Monty Python's Life of Brian where they stone John Cleese for saying 'Jehovah.' Only that was funny. This plainly isn't. Neither was the rioting and anger stoked up across the world by Islamic extremists when a Dutch newspaper printed satirical cartoons featuring the prophet.

Why are these people so insecure in their beliefs? A picture of a bearded man with a bomb coming out of his turban; a teddy bear given one of the most popular male names in the Islamic world; the constant paranoid belief that every action by the non-Muslim world is precisely and individually calculated to insult that religion to its very core. Could it be that the protesters know, deep down, that their extreme interpretation of their religion, their deliberate denial of much that is written in the Koran in favour of just those passages that allow them the maximum control, is actually a flawed way of thinking? Could it be that they cling to their extremism like petulant children, throwing tantrums rather than admit that they are wrong?

In what I would consider to be a civilised society (and I have to accept that mine is a view biased towards western Judaeo-Christian thinking) an unintended insult, swiftly retracted and apologised for, is as quickly forgiven and forgotten. To be fair, the Muslim Council of Britain seems to agree in this case, and has called for the teacher to be released immediately. In Sudan, however, the local clerics are calling for the full force of the law to be brought to bear. They also think that the incident is a calculated act - 'another ring in the circles of plotting against Islam.' You might say that if George W Bush decided to call his dog Muhammad, but not a middle-aged primary school teacher from the Wirral.

You know what? If Muslim clerics (all men) think it is a fitting punishment to lash women, then I say plot away against them.
If all there is to the Koran is blood and the sword, then it should be ridiculed at every quarter. If Islam is only about destroying the infidel, then I say fuck your prophet and his book of ignorant shit.

It isn't, of course. But the case of Gillian Gibbons makes it very hard to remember that.

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