Sunday, December 02, 2007

More on teddy bears called Mohammed

Islamonline announces that UK muslims seek the release of the "teddy bear teacher". Allow me to say : thank God ! for the rationality of this position.

However, a few things keep bugging me about all this ado about nothing. First, the teddy bear case seems to have successfully diverted attention away from a much graver and more dramatic case of - as The Economist called it - Double Indemnity : the Saudi woman convicted to 200 lashes for being the victim of gangrape. Yes, you read it correctly : the fundamental logic behind the woman's conviction is that she deserves the lashings for having been alone with a man in a car, and thus in breach of Saudi religious law that forbids unmarried adults of opposite sexes to spend private time together; this in turn would have evoked the rape. So, if the woman had not been sitting in that car, she would not have been raped, and so she is partly guilty of her own mishap. Evidently, the woman and her lawyer found this logic hard to follow and appealed. It made matters only worse. Her lawyer was barred from the court, and the number of lashings was raised to 200. The perverse effect of sharia jurisdiction is quite striking here, as is the oppressive nature of Saudi courts. The teddy bear case seems to have substituted fait-diver for blatant abuse of scripture and power.

Secondly, I keep wondering how to read the following quote from Islamonline about the teddy bear case : ""There was clearly no intention on the part of the teacher to deliberately insult the Islamic faith," said Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari." (secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain). The word 'deliberately' is central here, as it implies that if the insult had been deliberate indeed, the sentence would have been justified and appropriate. So the teacher deserves support for not knowing what she was doing; and she didn't know what she was doing as she obviously didn't fathom the depth and extent of islam's idiosyncracies. Had she known, and gone on to do what she did, a loud and - most probably fiery - demand for respect and redress would only have been justified. Or would it ?

And finally this : of course Ms. Gibbons is victim to nothing but a dirty game of (international) politics first and foremost. The Sudanese government is the most cynical of players in all of this. Let that be clear. Yet, there's hardly any mention of this political dimension. The angle on this case is mostly about the damage done to islam, by both zealots and islam-bashers alike. Supporting Ms. Gibbons now looks good on the surface. Yet it is mostly concerned with saving the face of islam, not with detached analysis, policy criticism, and a clear demand for leadership - not clownsmanship.

Why not aim for the bull's eye instead ?

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