Monday, December 3, 2007

Mistrust of Islam isn't always misplaced

Whenever a seemingly “knee jerk” reaction bum raps anything Islamic in nature there comes the countervailing force that says that not all Muslims are dangerous wackos and thus shouldn’t be painted with a broad brush.

That, of course, is true. But nonetheless mistrust of Islamic followers isn’t always misplaced.

Take the case of a British school teacher jailed for insulting Islam after she allowed her students to name a teddy bear Muhammad.

Gillian Gibbons' conviction under Sudan's Islamic Sharia law shocked Britons and many Muslims worldwide. Hard-line Muslim clerics in Sudan accused her of intentionally seeking to insult Islam's Prophet Muhammad, and the case angered some Sudanese, sparking a protest where demonstrators called for her execution.

True, her release came after two British Muslim members of the House of Lords met with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir early Monday to plead for her freedom.

Gibbons also sent a written statement to al-Bashir that she did not intend to offend anyone and had great respect for Islam.

Gibbons, 54, was sentenced Thursday to 15 days in prison and deportation for insulting Islam because she allowed her students to name a teddy bear Muhammad - a common name among Muslim men - in a class project on animals.

Ghazi Saladdin, a senior presidential adviser, said al-Bashir insisted that Gibbons had a “fair trial” but he agreed to pardon her because of the efforts by the British Muslim delegation.

During her trial, the weeping teacher said she had intended no harm. Her students, overwhelmingly Muslim, chose the name for the bear. Muslim scholars generally agree that intent is a key factor in determining if someone has violated Islamic rules against insulting the prophet.

The conviction shocked many Britons – and the rest of the world.

It’s things like this that give people reason to question Islam and its followers. Regardless of the explanations, the questions are nonetheless justified and fair.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Based on Islam law, why wouldn't they also convict the children and their parents for allowing them to pick that name in the first place? I guess they don't teach their own rules very well if even the kids and parents can't follow their own religion (I'm being facetious).