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Brit Faces 40 Lashes For Teddy Bear Name

From those defenders of the faith at Reuters:

 

British teacher held in Sudan over teddy bear’s name

Mon 26 Nov 2007

By Andrew Heavens

KHARTOUM, Nov 26 (Reuters) – A British primary school teacher has been arrested in Sudan, accused of insulting Islam’s Prophet by letting her class of 7-year-olds name a teddy bear Mohammed, her school said on Monday.

Colleagues of Gillian Gibbons, aged 54 from Liverpool, told Reuters they feared for her safety after receiving reports that young men had already started gathering outside the Khartoum police station where she was being held.

Teachers at Unity High School in central Khartoum said Gibbons made an innocent mistake and simply let her pupils choose their favourite name for the toy as part of a school project.

Police arrested Gibbons on Sunday at her home inside the school premises, said Unity director Robert Boulos, after a number of parents made a complaint to Sudan’s Ministry of Education.

Boulos said she had since been charged with “blasphemy”, an offence he said was punishable with up to three months in prison and a fine.

A spokesman from the British Embassy in Khartoum said it was still unclear whether Gibbons had been formerly charged. “We are following it up with the authorities and trying to meet her in person,” he said.

Boulos said he had decided to close down the school until January for fear of reprisals in Sudan’s predominantly Muslim capital. “This is a very sensitive issue.”

“We are very worried about her safety,” he added. “This was a completely innocent mistake. Miss Gibbons would have never wanted to insult Islam.”

Boulos said Gibbons was following a British National Curriculum course designed to teach young pupils about animals and their habitats. This year’s animal was the bear.

Gibbons, who joined Unity in August, asked a girl to bring in her teddy bear to help the Year 2 class focus, said Boulos.

The teacher then asked the class to name the toy. “They came up with eight names including Abdullah, Hassan and Mohammed. Then she explained what it meant to vote and asked them to choose the name.” Twenty out of the 23 children chose Mohammed.

Each child was allowed to take the bear home at weekends and asked to write a diary about what they did with the toy. Each entry was collected in a book with a picture of the bear on the cover, next to the message “My name is Mohammed,” said Boulos.

The bear itself was not marked or labelled with the name in any way, he added, saying Sudanese police had now seized the book and had asked to interview the 7-year-old girl.

Boulos said the first he knew about the course was last week when he got a phone call from the Ministry of Education, saying a number of Muslim parents had made formal complaints…

The country’s state-controlled Sudanese Media Centre reported late Sunday that Gibbons had been arrested for “insulting the Prophet Mohammad”. It said charges were being prepared “under article 125 of the criminal law” which covers insults against faith and religion…

Unity, an independent school founded in 1902, is governed by a board representing major Christian denominations in Sudan, but teaches both Christians and Muslims aged 4 to 18.

Some more details, from the UK’s Telegraph:


Sudanese police stand guard outside Unity High School in central Khartoum November 26, 2007. British primary school teacher Gillian Gibbons has been arrested in Sudan, accused of insulting Islam’s Prophet by letting her class of 7-year-olds name a teddy bear Mohammed, her school said on Monday.

Briton faces lashes in Sudan over teddy named Mohammed

By Caroline Gammell and Aislinn Simpson

26/11/2007

A British primary school teacher in Sudan is facing 40 lashes and up to six months in prison after allowing her pupils to name a teddy bear after the prophet Mohammed…

If charged and found guilty of blasphemy she faces punishment under Sharia law…

The divorced mother-of-two from Liverpool is being held at a police station in the Sudanese capital city of Khartoum, and there were reports that an angry mob had gathered.

As the Foreign Office tried to resolve the situation, Miss Gibbons was visited by consular staff who described her as well, despite her ordeal.

Miss Gibbons had been working at Unity High School – popular with wealthy Sudanese and expatriates – since August, after leaving her position as deputy head-teacher at Dovecot Primary School in Liverpool this summer.

However, trouble flared after she let her class choose a name for the stuffed bear as part of a school project.

She was teaching her Year 2 class about animals and their habitats as part of the school’s British-style national curriculum.

She asked one of the female pupils to bring in a teddy bear and asked the students to name it. “They came up with eight names including Abdullah, Hassan and Mohammed,” said the school’s director, Robert Boulos

Twenty of the 23 children opted for Mohammed and the toy was taken home by a different pupil each weekend to record a diary of the bear’s “activities”.

Mr Boulos said the diary entries were written in a book which bore a picture of the bear and the words “My Name is Mohammed”.

It is seen as an insult to Islam to attempt to make an image of the Prophet Mohammed, but Mr Boulos said nothing was written on the bear itself.

Several Muslim parents complained to the Ministry of Education and on Sunday, Sudanese police arrested her at her home on the school premises.

Mr Boulos insisted Miss Gibbons had not meant to offend anyone but said the school would remain closed until January for fear of reprisals.

She has done nothing wrong but now we are very concerned that there’s a risk to the school and the students from the men in the street,” Mr Boulos said.

The police have confiscated the diary and plan to interview the little girl who owned the bear.

A source close to the school said one teacher was angered by the naming of the toy and complained to the headmistress, who is European. “According to what I was told, she belongs to one of the established conservative families in Khartoum.” …

Just when you thought the Religion Of Peace had gone too far, they go a little further.

By the way, what were these kids doing with a teddy bear anyway, or any stuffed animals.

For according to the Islamic scholars any representation of animate beings is haraam if it includes eyes, a nose or a mouth.

From the standing committee on fatwas at Islam Q & A:

Ruling on drawing pictures for children without facial features

Question:

I am a woman who would like to work in the field of children’s stories and children’s magazines. Illustrations for children usually include pictures of animate beings. Is it permissible for me to draw the faces but omit some features so that they will not be imitating the creation of Allaah?

Answer:

Praise be to Allaah.

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) told us that the one who makes images – by drawing or engraving –will be punished on the Day of Resurrection, and these images whose makers are given this warning are images of animate beings, based on what its says in the hadeeth, that Allaah will say: “Give life to that which you have crated.”

It was narrated from ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Those who make images will be punished on the Day of Resurrection, and it will be said to them: ‘Bring to life that which you have created.’” Narrated by al-Bukhaari (5607) and Muslim (2108).

It seems that images with incomplete features and those which do not have a nose or eyes are not included in the images that are haraam, and their makers are not included in the warning, because they cannot really be called images and these pictures are not competing with the creation of Allaah.

It was narrated that ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Among the people who will be most severely punished on the Day of Resurrection will be those who imitate the creation of Allaah.”

Narrated by al-Bukhaari (5610) and Muslim (2107).

Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

With regard to stuffed toys in which the image is not clear, even though there are limbs, heads and shoulders, but they have no eyes or noses, there is nothing wrong with them because this is not competing with the creation of Allaah.

Majmoo’ Fataawa al-Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (2/ question no. 330).

The Shaykh also said:

Every one who does something that is competing with the creation of Allaah, is included in the hadeeth which is: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) cursed the image-makers… and he said: “The people who will be most severely punished on the Day of Resurrection will be the image-makers.” But as I said, if the image is not clear, i.e., it does not have eyes or a nose or a mouth or fingers, then this is not a complete image, and is not competing with the creation of Allaah, may He be glorified and exalted.

Majmoo’ Fataawa al-Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (2/question no. 331).

And Allaah knows best.

Yes, Allaah surely knows best.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Monday, November 26th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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