Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Washington Post Glosses Over A Story

Graphic from this essay by Mustang of Social Sense

The November 28, 2007 Washington Post story of Gillian Gibbons, the British schoolteacher arrested in Sudan for allegations of blasphemy over her young students' naming a teddy bear Muhammad, omitted the possibility of her receiving 40 lashes if she is convicted. To date, this particular story in the Washington Post is the only such coverage in the print edition, although these items from news services have appeared on the Washington Post's web site.

The article in the November 28, 2007 print edition of the Washington Post also omitted the following snippet from Reuters:
KHARTOUM, Sudan - 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 Muhammad, her school said on Monday.

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

Teachers at Unity High School in central Khartoum said Gibbons, 54, made an innocent mistake and simply let her pupils choose their favorite 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 offense 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."...
Apparently, Ms. Gibbons didn't understand the implications of the cartoonifada.

The Washington Post article did, however, contain the following insightful information:
..."We don't have any teddy bears over here, so in Sudan, for us, it is a fierce and dangerous animal," Khalid al-Mubarak, a spokesman for the Sudanese Embassy in London, told the BBC.


In Liverpool, the city's Anglican bishop and top Muslim leader issued a joint statement calling on Sudanese authorities to show mercy.

"We, as Christian and Muslim leaders in the city of Liverpool, appeal to the Sudanese government to show compassion in the name of God the most merciful and release Gillian Gibbons," said the statement from the Right Rev. James Jones and Akbar Ali, chairman of Liverpool Mosque.

The Danish cartoon controversy that began in late 2005 led to violent protests around the globe by Muslims outraged over the perceived insult to Islam. The Sudanese case has not led to similar protests.

"I don't consider it to be blasphemous," said Humera Khan, a member of al-Nisa, a Muslim women's organization in London.

In an interview, Khan said that in addition to the issue of reverence for Muhammad, Muslims generally do not give human names to objects or animals. "Our relationship with inanimate objects and animals is not as sentimental as in the West," she said.

Khan said Gibbons "should have been more aware" of the cultural sensitivities in the country where she was living. But, she said, the Sudanese "government shouldn't have been so stupid, either."...
"Stupid" is the word for insulting Islam by the naming of a teddy bear, all right.

Can you imagine Christians reacting is such a manner if a teddy bear were named "Jesus"? As a Christian, I might not like the possibility of disrespect of my Savior, but I surely wouldn't even consider punishment. In fact, I don't think that I'd even take offense.

Why are some Muslims so easily offended? Superstition? Reliance upon legalism? Something else?

And why did the the one "featured" story in the Washington Post omit the most outrageous part of what could happen to Gillian Gibbons?

Note: Mustang's satirical essay is HERE. Some of the comments are quite interesting.


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posted by Always On Watch @ 11/28/2007 09:05:00 AM