Several thousand Muslims stood in protest yesterday in Sudan. They weren't protesting the AIDS crisis so prevalent in their country. They weren't even protesting the armed conflict in Darfur which is rising up child soldiers and sending many families into refugee camps. No, this protest was about a first-grade teacher.
Gillian Gibbons, a British woman, was sentenced to 15 days in jail and deportation for allowing her 7 year-old class to name a teddy bear "Muhammad". The protesters of yesterday, wearing the Muslim color of green, thought the sentence was not stringent enough. They claim she has insulted the Prophet Muhammad of the Muslim religion.
The crowd shouted obscenities such as "No tolerance!", "Execution!" and "Kill her!"
This is of course unbelievable to many Westerns. America especially has been bombarded with messages of tolerance, peace, and unity when it comes to Muslims. We have been urged not to profile at the airport and not to fear the religion of Islam. Even during so much turbulence in the world today, we hear shaky voices saying that Islam is a religion of peace. As I have grown in tolerance and have been made to feel bad about my (seemingly understandable) fears of this religion, it is disappointing that they have not been growing in tolerance for the West.
Gibbons is not a Muslim. How could she know anything about insulting the Prophet? That is a fair question. Her intention was not to be disrespectful. As an outsider in a Muslim country I'm sure she took extreme steps to be respectful and proper at all times. Her innocence seems obvious and the anger on her seems misdirected. Perhaps Muslims of Sudan are angry at the West for our religion, our politics, and our concern for the serious atrocities taking place in Sudan right now. Gibbons will leave the country with her life, but will the burning anger of the area fall on someone else?
Saturday, December 1, 2007
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