Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Gillian Gibbons released

Like most other people in Britain I am relieved that Baroness Warsi and Lord Ahmed managed to persuade the Sudanese President to release Gillian Gibbons, the so-called "Teddy Teacher".

The idea that in the 21st century a teacher could be arrested, and threatened with a jail sentence or a flogging, because she allowed a class of six and seven year olds to name a teddy bear after one of the children in the class, who happened to share his name with the prophet of Islam.

If anyone in this whole bizarre saga has brought Islam into disrepute it is the demonstrators who called for her to receive a severe punishment for what was at worst an unfortunate cultural misunderstanding.

The overwhelming majority of Muslims in this country were horrified at the arrest of Gillian Gibbons, not least because they knew what enormous damage such a grossly disproportionate action would do to the reputation of Islam among people of other religions and none.

The most effective expression of what our muslim neighbours really think about the whole absurd business was presented by the muslim lady, complete with headscarf, who stood outside the Sudanese embassy with a poster of a teddy bear wearing a ribbon with the slogan "Not in my name!"

A big thank you to that lady for proving that there are plenty of Muslims who do have a sense of humour and a sense of proportion.

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