Teddy bear incites hatred, riots

December 10, 2007

by Roz Kohls

Gillian Gibbons, 54, a British teacher in Khartoum, Sudan, was sentenced to 15 days in prison and deportation.

Her crime? She incited religious hatred by letting her young pupils name a teddy bear Muhammad.

Originally, she was going to be punished with both 40 lashes and prison time. The judge decided that 15 days in a hell-hole prison would be enough.

That wasn’t enough for thousands of Jihadists, though. The very next day they wanted Gibbons executed by firing squad, or beheaded.

“The marchers took to the streets after Friday prayers to denounce the sentence as too lenient. The protestors gathered in Martyrs Square, outside the presidential palace in the capital, many of them carrying knives and sticks. Marchers chanted ‘Shame, shame on the UK,’ ‘No tolerance, execution’ and ‘Kill her, kill her by firing squad.’ Hundreds of riot police were deployed, but they did not break up the demonstration,” according to the British Broadcasting Corp.

On a British Broadcasting web site, people in Sudan said that the children in her class should be punished, too.

Once she gets deported and returns to the UK, she will face the wrath of British Muslims, who also think she is getting off easy.

Last Monday, Sudan President Omar al-Beshir “pardoned” her and handed her over to British officials at the embassy. At this time, her precise location is still a secret because the mobs haven’t given up trying to kill her.

Gibbons shouldn’t have to face execution or spend even one second in prison, much less 15 days. She will be in extreme danger from other inmates and guards while she is there. There also is the possibility that within the 15 days, a lynch mob will break in and kill her anyway.

Why aren’t the moderate Muslims speaking out? Where are the human rights groups? Why is there no outrage from feminists? Why is the United Nations silent?

This “crime” is classified as religious hatred, but Gibbons and the children aren’t the ones doing the hating.

I hope the British government’s response will be greater than what it has been so far, relatively muted. In the past, Great Britain protected its subjects, wherever they were.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said he is “extremely disappointed.” I know the British are often characterized as understating situations.

But this is much worse than a disappointment.