Muhammed the bear

A teacher in Sudan is facing prison, or 40 lashes, for a terrible event she allowed to take place in her classroom. I can hardly believe it myself. I can’t bring myself to type the words, so will simply have to quote:

she allowed her pupils to name a teddy bear Muhammad.

Isn’t that disgusting? What’s the problem, you ask? Clearly, it’s insulting to Islam. Here are the horrific details:

Ms Gibbons, who joined the school in August, asked a seven-year-old girl to bring in her teddy bear and asked the class to pick names for it, he said.

“They came up with eight names including Abdullah, Hassan and Muhammad,” Mr Boulos said, adding that she then had the children vote on a name.

Twenty out of the 23 children chose Muhammad as their favourite name.

Mr Boulos said each child was then allowed to take the bear home at weekends and told to write a diary about what they did with it.

He said the children’s entries were collected in a book with a picture of the bear on the cover and a message which read, “My name is Muhammad.”

Nothing about this is funny. The school has been closed until January. There are reports of men gathering outside the police station where she’s being held. The woman could get lashed. It’s completely obscene. Even the BBC don’t seem to know which particular bit of scripture she’s supposedly breached. Let’s look more closely at this.

  • It can’t be the name itself, as literally millions of people, all clearly not the original Muhammed, are named Muhammed.
  • Islam doesn’t permit images of their holy dude – it doesn’t seem like this was an image, just a name given to a bear. To say that the bear was meant to actually represent Muhammed is something of a stretch.
  • Most religions seem to have their own arbitrary animals that are great / awful. Cows, pigs, magical flying horses, dogs, whatever1. But bears? Afaik, Islam has no problem with bears.
  • The children aren’t being punished. This is odd. They chose the name! They have insulted the prophet.

Hmmm, let me think. What about this female teacher could possibly have annoyed so many people? What about her could have annoyed so many misogynistic young men? I just can’t think what it could be.

Googling has found a few Muslim bloggers who think this is stupid. Good. It’s easy to get the the impression that Islam is millions and millions of people buying into arcane bigotry, and I really don’t want that to be true. Fewer women saying how great their burqa is and more saying how dumb Islamic states are would be, you know, nice.

It’ll never happen in a million years, but wouldn’t it be great if the UK government said “we fundamentally disagree with your law. Lay one finger on her and we will impose sanctions. Let her go, right now, or we’ll do it ourselves”. Sigh.

  1. no exotic creatures in there. How curious []