One of the big news stories over here in Britain at the moment is the jailing of a British schoolteacher in Sudan for ‘insulting Islam’. Her crime is that, during a classroom exercise, she asked her pupils to name a teddy bear, and the children chose the name ‘Muhammad’. As well as being the name of one of the pupils, Muhammad is also the name of the Muslim prophet and in Islam it is frowned upon (to say the least) to create idols or images of Muhammad – you may remember the furore surrounding the cartoons that some European newspapers published last year which depicted the prophet as a suicide bomber.
Though it’s obvious to most sane people that the teacher didn’t intend to cause offence when the bear was named (and she has apologised), complaints were made, she was arrested, and has now been jailed for 15 days and will be deported upon release.
That’s bad enough, but now at least a thousand of Sudanese people have demanded a tougher punishment – some going as far as demanding death by firing squad.
The reaction in the UK has been of almost universal condemnation – from Muslim leaders to politicians – and the government is trying to intervene where possible. But should the Sudanese judiciary give into the protesters’ demands, we could see a woman shot to death, over a teddy bear.