‘Barbaric clash of values’

Muslims insulted by TeddyThe right-wing press is having a field day with the report that teacher Gillian Gibbons has been arrested in Khartoum after letting her class of seven-year-olds name a teddy Mohammed.

The Daily Express leader is headed “Barbaric clash of values” and opines that the actions of the Sudanese state “show how nasty is the Muslim code of sharia law” and indicate “a fundamental incompatibility between Islamic and Western values”.

The Sun mentions that Ms Gibbons’ children have refused to issue a statement and quotes a relative as saying that “they do not want to aggravate the situation”. But the Sun itself has no hesitation in doing just that. Its front page article is headlined “Muslims insulted by Teddy” and an editorial comment inside declares:

“The West is routinely condemned for demonising Muslims. But it’s hard to sympathise with a faith that demands 40 lashes for calling a teddy bear Mohammed. Every perceived slight seems punishable by violence or even death. Until Muslim leaders speak out publicly against such barbarity, East and West will never come to understand one another.”

Needless to say, the Sun hasn’t actually asked any leading British Muslims for their views on the case. The Sun Online website has, however, invited its readers to submit their opinions. Characteristic comments include:

“Backward religion in a backward country, what else can you expect from Islam??”; “Islam….a religion of peace? what a f**king joke!”; “a barbaric law by a barbaric religion”; “I hope all other British teachers working in muslim countries, pack their bags and leave them all to their own pre-historic pathetic way of life”; “Good thing she wasn’t sitting unchaperoned in a car with a man, that would have added another 100 lashes to the sentence just like the girl that was raped by the 6 peaceful Muslims following the teachings of the Qur’an”; “I loathe Islam, I loathe Mohamed and I loathe that they are trying to impose their backward way of life onto us. This disgusting Government should be tried for treason for letting so many into our country and allowing them to spew their hatred of the West and the non believers. They should be rounded up and shipped out post haste!!” And more of the same.

The Daily Express, too, has opened up a “debate” on the question “Should teacher be flogged for teddy ‘insult’?” And here’s a sample of comments from Express readers: “the trouble is that if you call a peaceable teddy bear Mohammed, it’ll send him sliding down the slippery slope. He’ll start wearing a turban and the next thing you know, he’ll speak with a funny accent and become a terrrorist”; “Great prophet? Mass murdering,child molesting, warlord are words that come to my mind”; “I can see why the sudanese got upset. A teddy has a head full of cotton wool, and goes to bed with little children. Probably reminds them of someone”; “Islam is not just a religion but an entire code of living. It is non democratic. It is theocracy. And this is the rule that with the support of many of our politicians, muslims seek to bring impose in Britain into areas where they are the majority”; “What a peaceful, tolerant religion. The teddy bear should have been named Jesus, then it could have been flogged, stoned and beheaded”; “It shows the barbarity of Islam and the laws that govern it and gives a taste of what awaits us if we don’t wake up to the threat in our midst”.

Meanwhile, over at the neocon blog Harry’s Place, the comments section is equally lively. And here are some characteristic excerpts from that source: “What would you use to describe the utter barbarism and sheer disfunctionality that prevails anywhere Islam has a grip”; “I cannot post anything about this story that doesn’t make me think of a neutron bomb”; “I rather take offense at the very thought of giving a jolly nice teddy the name of such an infamous, delusional, perverted and murderous psychopath”; “We have these examples of the hideous nature of Islam everyday and still progressives apologise for it. Fact is this incident could happen in the UK just as easily. No doubt we will soon be flogging rape victims here as well”; “when she’s safely home perhaps we tell them what we think of their f-d-up neurotic cult”; “I like this story it shows Islam for what it is”.

Find it difficult to distinguish these contributors to the self-proclaimed home of the “decent left” from the racists that infest the online discussions at the Sun and the Express? Me too.

See also Inayat Bunglawala’s comments at Comment is Free, 27 November 2007

And Julaybib Ayoub at the Tasneem Project, 26 November 2007