This Little Teddy Made Some People Unhappy

Posted on November 29, 2007

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Just as we thought nothing else could top the inanity of the recent Saudi court case which sentenced a rape victim to 200 lashings and six months in jail for meeting a man unaccompanied by a male relative, here comes another incident to add further shame to the Muslim community. A British teacher is being charged in Sudan with insulting Islam for allowing her class of 7 year-olds to name a teddy bear Mohamed. Anyone in their right mind would appreciate that this is not an attack on the sanctity of the Prophet, but more likely, a reflection of the popularity and mass appeal of the name itself, which also happens to be the most common first name in the world.

A disturbingly increasing number of Muslim communities are applying archaic laws and passing ridiculous judgments against innocent people, both Muslims and non-Muslims alike, misusing the name of religion to justify what is essentially a lack of sound reason and intellect. These rulings would be laughable but for the very grim fact that it is often a matter of life and death for the innocent people involved. We play the role of victim and accuse the rest of the world of a global conspiracy against Islam, but is it any wonder that people become a tad suspicious and develop fear against Muslims when a section of us are eagerly whipping and lashing people, with the full authorization of the judiciary?

Thousands of enraged Muslims protested – some very violently – across the world at the publication of the senseless and degrading caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. Yet we don’t see that sort of numbers or outpouring of emotions when we hear news of women being systematically discriminated against in many Muslim countries. Is it not an insult to Islam, when women are being unfairly treated by men who use as an excuse for their behaviour, the very religion that seeks to preserve and champion women’s right to equality in the first place?

Before we start invoking the name of George W. Bush, America, Israel or any other of the usual suspects of the Muslim blame-game, we would do better to peer into our own communities and take a hard look at the rot that we have allowed to develop through complacency and an unreasonable tolerance for radicalism. The teddy named Mohamed is not blasphemy, but the response by Sudan could very well be.

Posted in: Society