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The Mohammed Teddy Bear Blasphemy update: Teacher awaits her fate

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By Michelle Malkin  •  November 27, 2007 10:30 AM

Update: Pupil tries to save teacher.

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Photoshop credit: Rusty@JawaReport

Updating the latest Religion of Perpetual Outrage story I noted yesterday morning, British teacher Gillian Gibbons is waiting for a judge’s ruling on whether she will be tried for blasphemy because she allowed students at her Sudanese school to name their teddy bears after Mohammed. The Times of London follows up:

A British teacher facing 40 lashes in Sudan over a school teddy bear named Muhammad will discover today whether she will be charged with blasphemy.

Gillian Gibbons, 54, is being questioned for a second day by police in Khartoum on suspicion of insulting Islam’s prophet for allowing her seven-year-old pupils to give the toy the name of the prophet.

She was moved to a cell at the CID Criminal Police Exploration Bureau for further questioning. A file on the case will be sent to the department of public prosecutions and a judge should decide today whether she should be charged.

Robert Boulos, the director of Unity High School, the British school where Ms Gibbons worked, said that she was in “very high spirits and being treated well”.

Interrogated and jailed over a bunch of stuffed animals.

Where is Amnesty International?

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Gillian Gibbons is not alone, of course. The routine threatening of infidels over “insults” continues apace. Take the case of Taslima Nasrin:

For more than a decade, the writer Taslima Nasrin has been fighting; fighting against the courts, fighting to be heard and fighting for her life. Last night, the Bangladeshi-born author was struggling again as violent protests in one city – and the purported threat of further violent protests in another – saw her shuttling across India to avoid angry Muslims who have accused her of insulting Islam.

“I have no place to go. India is my home and I would like to keep living in this country until I die,” the Sakharov Prize winner told The Hindu newspaper. “Here in this country, I have got the love and sympathy of the people for which I am grateful.”

On Thursday, Nasrin was forced to flee from the city of Kolkata where she has been living for the past two years, a day after Muslim activists led protests against her which resulted 50 people being injured and the imposition of a curfew. The All India Minorities Forum, a Muslim group, has demanded she be deported not just from Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta, but from India.

But after one night in Jaipur, Rajasthan, the authorities there decided that Nasrin should also leave to avoid the risk of a repetition of violence. “She didn’t inform the government of Rajasthan before coming here and as she requires high security we asked her to leave,” the Home Minister, Gulab Chand Kataria, told reporters. As a result Nasrin was last night headed to Delhi, and presumably further controversy.

Controversy is nothing new for the writer. Having fled from Bangladesh in 1994, Nasrin has long been confronted by people who do not like what she has to say. After slipping out of Bangladesh where she was charged with blasphemy, the feminist writer spent many years in Sweden, before moving to Kolkata, a city with a long literary tradition. While her books have been translated into more than 20 languages, her first four autobiographical volumes remain banned in Bangladesh.

In India, opposition to the writer from a variety of groups has ebbed and flowed. At the centre of the controversy are comments she is alleged to have made to an Indian newspaper 13 years ago which quoted her as saying that alterations needed to be made to the Koran in order to provide women with more rights. A court also accused her of “deliberately and maliciously” hurting the feelings of Muslims as a result of her Bengali-language novel Lajja, or Shame, which focuses on riots between Muslims and Hindus.

Taliban apologist Yvonne Ridley was unavailable for comment.

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Andy McCarthy makes a salient point:

Prompted by last Friday’s bombings in northern India (which killed 13 and wounded at least 80), Sadanand Dhume has a valuable op-ed in today’s WSJ (subscription req’d) about the appeasement of radical Islam that is typical in today’s democratic societies. He concludes:

India’s experience offers important lessons to other democracies struggling to integrate large Muslim populations. It highlights the folly of attempting to exempt Muslims from universal norms regarding women’s rights, freedom of speech and freedom of inquiry. It reveals that democracy alone — when detached from bedrock democratic principles — offers no antidote to radical Islamic fervor.

ME: This has been one of my main complaints about the Democracy Project. The main cause of Islamic radicalism is Islamic doctrine, not lack of democracy. The doctrine at issue does not make all or even most Muslims into radicals; but as long as it is not reformed, it will always make some percentage of them radicals (in many places, a larger percentage than we like to acknowledge). Democracy — even real democracy — will not defeat radicalism. And while democracy has many virtues, it also creates the conditions in which Islamic radicalism can flourish in a way it cannot in authoritarian regimes…