November 29, 2007
Set British teacher free
TORONTO - The Muslim Canadian Congress has expressed shock and dismay over the recent imprisonment in Sudan of a British school teacher accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad and is appealing to the Government of Sudan to immediately set the woman free.
Gillian Gibbons, 54, was arrested on Sunday in Khartoum after allowing her class of primary school pupils to name a teddy bear 'Muhammad'. She now faces six months in prison and 40 lashes under Sudan's medieval sharia laws.
In a statement condemning the move, Sohail Raza, the MCC's Communications Director said "the English teacher did not name the teddy bear, the children did. My assumption here is that they gave their beloved teddy a name they have learnt to love and respect at home." He further pointed out that the teddy was only named Muhammad, it didn't become the prophet just by being named so.
The MCC further noted that Sudan has ratified international treaties that pertain to civil liberties and freedom from cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments and must be held accountable to these treaties. Furthermore, the interest of upholding the image of Muslims as being tolerant and rational people is not served when barbaric zealots go out on a witch hunt on non-issues.
The statement said, "this is one more indication of the bankruptcy of the Islamist agenda worldwide--a contempt for joy and revulsion of happiness." Sudan's Islamists have a record of using Islam as a shield to carry out their authoritarian, misogynist and racist policies. Whether it is their role in the Darfuri genocide or the public execution of Mohammed Mahmud Taha in 1985, Sudan's Islamists have been an embarrassment to the rest of the Muslim world.
The MCC is urging the Canadian government and Muslim organisations to intercede on behalf of this woman before indictments take place or sentences are pronounced.
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For more information, please contact Sohail Raza at 416-505-1613