Monday, 26 November 2007

Bizarre news story of the day

Apparently "A British schoolteacher has been arrested in Sudan accused of insulting Islam's Prophet, after she allowed her pupils to name a teddy bear Muhammad...The BBC's correspondent Amber Henshaw said Ms Gibbons' punishment could be up to six months in jail, 40 lashes or a fine. The school has been closed until January for fear of reprisals. Fellow teachers at Khartoum's Unity High School told Reuters news agency they feared for Ms Gibbons' safety after receiving reports that men had started gathering outside the police station where she was being held. The school's director, Robert Boulos, said: "This is a very sensitive issue. We are very worried about her safety...Ms Gibbons, who joined the school in August, asked a seven-year-old girl to bring in her teddy bear and asked the class to pick names for it, he said. "They came up with eight names including Abdullah, Hassan and Muhammad," Mr Boulos said, adding that she then had the children vote on a name. Twenty out of the 23 children chose Muhammad as their favourite name. Mr Boulos said each child was then allowed to take the bear home at weekends and told to write a diary about what they did with it. He said the children's entries were collected in a book with a picture of the bear on the cover and a message which read, "My name is Muhammad."

The article continues "It is seen as an insult to Islam to attempt to make an image of the Prophet Muhammad." How is this bear an image of the "Prophet Muhammad"? Surely it is just a child's toy that has been given the same name as the "Prophet Muhammad", in the same way that Muhammad (or variations on that name) is the most popular boys name in Islamic countries and soon to be in the UK as well (see below).

"He said police had seized the book and asked to interview the girl who owned the bear."

I assume the bear has not yet been interviewed!

Of course since this is the BBC, they have to end the article with the reminder "Cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad printed in several European newspapers sparked violent protests around the world in 2006."

Sky News bring us the fact that the BBC never reveal namely "There is no specific, or explicit ban in the Koran on images of Allah or the Prophet Mohammed - be they carved, painted or drawn. However, chapter 42, verse 11 of the Koran does say: "[Allah is] the originator of the heavens and the earth... [there is] nothing like a likeness of Him."

I don't think anyone though the teddy bear was meant to represent the "Prophet Muhammad" any more than naming a boy in Bradford "Mohamed" is done to suggest that the boy is a representation of the "Prophet Muhammad". I see from this report from earlier this year that "Muhammad is now second only to Jack as the most popular name for baby boys in Britain and is likely to rise to No 1 by next year...The name, if all 14 different spellings are included, was shared by 5,991 newborn boys last year, beating Thomas into third place, followed by Joshua and Oliver. Scholars said that the name’s rise up the league table was driven partly by the growing number of young Muslims having families, coupled with the desire to name their child in honour of the Prophet. Muhammad Anwar, Professor of Ethnic Relations at Warwick University, said: “Muslim parents like to have something that shows a link with their religion or with the Prophet.”"

"Although the official names register places the spelling Mohammed at No 23, an analysis of the top 3,000 names provided by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) puts Muhammad at No 2 once the 14 spellings are taken into account. If its popularity continues – it rose by 12 per cent last year – the name will take the top spot by the end of this year. It first entered the Top 30 in 2000....The leading name for girls born to Muslim parents in 2006 was Aisha, in 110th place. Its meaning is “wife of the Prophet” or “life”."

For your information "The different spellings of Muhammad in 2006 and the number of occurrences - Mohammed 2,833 Muhammad 1,422 Mohammad 920 Muhammed 358 Mohamed 354 Mohamad 29 Mahammed 18 Mohammod 13 Mahamed 12 Muhammod 9 Muhamad 7 Mohmmed 6 Mohamud 5 Mohammud 5"

Muslims do seem to be very touchy about representations of the Prophet Muhammad, it is a shame they are less touchy about the flogging of rape victims.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

From the Pied Piper of Haraam

There's a little bear
Like I hope you've never seen before
Who's a lot of fun, oh dear
Children everywhere,
Grow to love him more and more, but it’s not the fastest growing religion anymore
He's was the number one, excepting the real Muhammad and Allah, praise him
There's a million stories to be told
Of the things that he's done!
And he's gonna share them all with you
So come along

Oh Muhammad, Muhammad the Bear
Everyone despise his name, or else die in shame
Muhammad, Muhammad the Bear
Everyone come and join
In all of his games, unless you’re female

There is Badger Bill
Lily Tiger-Lily, I assume because she is covered too,
And a whole lot more
They are Muhammad's friends
And they're waiting here for you
So unlock the door but don’t you dare remove that veil
There's a magic land not far away
And they call it Sudan
Where you'll meet a little teddy bear in chains
And if you are good and have a thick skin, you might just live to tell the tale again

Oh Muhammad, Muhammad the Bear
Everyone despise his name, or else die in shame
Muhammad, Muhammad the Bear
Everyone come and join
In all of his pain