Gillian Gibbons, a teacher describing animals to a class of six and seven year olds in Sudan, used a teddy bear to help with the British National Curriculum she was there to teach. The children were asked to come up with a name, and they voted on the one they wanted deciding on the name Mohamed – the most widely used name in the population.
Her innocent decision, and what looks like a complaint from a staff member about it, has led to her being sentenced for 15 days for insulting Islam. An angry rent a mob outside the police station where she was being held demand her death, carrying weapons as a show of force. The verdict could have been 40 lashes and a year in jail.
I am not sure how this 54 year old lady will cope with this ordeal. Some commentators have called this a cultural misunderstanding. That does not excuse anyone from being arrested and jailed for this. It is unjust, demeaning and out of all proportion. This should really not be an issue, let alone a criminal matter for a state.
If like me you are outraged that such a thing could happen, here are a few things I would suggest:
- Teddy Bear in your window, on your desk at work
- Teddy Bears Picnic outside the Sudanese embassy
- Write to the embassy:
Sudan Embassy LondonGeneral Secretary
Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan
3 Cleveland Row St. James’s London SW1A 1DD
Whom you can also e mail via this link here.
Now there are worse things happening in the world, so why get upset over someone that just happens to be British? What about Darfur and the horrors happening there? Well yes there are plenty of terrible things to be concerned about – I do not see this incident as being mutually exclusive. It is possible to care about more than one thing and shame on those that be little the outrage this incident causes. I would not want this to happen to anyone anywhere.
I hope she is released soon and wish Gillian Gibbons and her family well.
Will be in London Saturday and if she is still in Prison will have the Teddy Bears Picnic outside the embassy. If anyone is interested in joining in please post to let me know and will keep you informed. Bring your bear.