In the ultimate demonstration of extremism, a school in Sudan has been forced to close in fear that extremists could take violent actions against students or teachers in the aftermath of the controversy over the naming of a class bear “Mohammed.” Lillian Gibbons, a 54-year-old teacher at the Unity High School in Khartoum, was arrested for insulting Islam when she allowed her children to pick the name.
In this growing farce, adults are actually pretending that this is a matter of upholding the rule of law — Sudanese style. Sudan has something that they call a Ministry of Justice to enforce such rules. Justice Minister Mohamed Ali al-Mardi said that “(The charges) are under the Sudanese penal code … insulting religion and provoking the feelings of Muslims.”
A formal proceeding was held in which a 7-year-old boy had to testify that he was thinking of himself not Mohammed the prophet when he voted. The fact that adults could hold such a hearing is itself a mystery.
“The teacher asked me what I wanted to call the teddy,” the boy said shyly, his voice barely rising above a whisper. “I said Mohammad. I named it after my name,” he added. Sitting in his garden wearing shorts, his family, who did not want their full names used, urged him to describe what had happened. He said he was not thinking of Islam’s Prophet when asked to suggest a name, adding most of the class agreed with his choice. In a writing exercise students were asked to keep a diary of what they did with the teddy bear. “Some people took the teddy home and took it places with them … like the swimming pool,” the child said. Mohammad said Gibbons was “very nice” and he would be upset if she never came back to teach. He added Gibbons had not discussed religion nor did she mention the Prophet. “We studied maths and English and spelling,” he said, rubbing his mop of short, curly hair.
What is even more bizarre is that extremists would harm children or teachers in a demonstration of their Islamic faith. So the school is now closed under January depriving the children of an education to appease the lunatic fringe.
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