Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Holy cow!

As has been widely reported the British school teacher Gillian Gibbons has been arrested in Sudan accused of insulting Islam's Prophet, after she allowed her pupils to name a teddy bear Muhammad.

Apparently it was 20 of the 23 children in the class who chose the name.

If charged and found guilty Ms. Gibbons could be sentenced to six months in jail, 40 lashes or a fine.

The school itself, the Khartoum's Unity High School, has been closed and is to remain shut until January due to fears of reprisals.

Now I have to admit that this is a little concerning on quite a personal level.

My own children have recently been involved in the naming of a rather nice fluffy toy cow.

After a protracted voting process that kind of resembled AV in a round about way they settled on Ptah. One of the great Egyptian gods, personification of the primordial mound and the uber god of Mephis. Also, quite appropriately, the god made manifest in the Apis Bull.

Well it was either that or my slight mishearing of one of them, in a most childish way, saying ‘thank you’.

Anyway I know that this is a terrible thing to do and I expect that I will suffer grievously at the weighing of my soul against maat. Osiris is probably feeling a little peevish already. But what can you do, kids eh?

On the upside I don’t think that the neighbours have taken deep offence and I’m not aware that any have made complaints to the Authorities

I am a little worried though about the reaction of the spindly looking bloke down the road, the one who seems a bit obsessed with the sunbathing. But he may not realise as he’s rather tied up in building a new shed in his garden at the moment. He’s put it in a totally impractical place but that’s up to him I guess.

But for the sake of clarity, no disrespect to ‘Ptah’ was intended and I hope that any remaining adherents will forgive me this transgression. I certainly didn’t intend to cause any cultural offence and just wanted to have a little educational fun with the children.

I would hate to suffer a disproportionate punishment as a result of inadvertently allowing my kids to insult a deity worshipped for several thousand years, probably one of the longest in Human history.


Phil A said...

My understanding is Mohammed is also, Arabic for ‘praiseworthy’, or 'highly praised' as well as a name, so was probably initially a title, or honorific.

So what about all the people named Mohammed? Should they, or their parents, be done for disrespectin’? And why exactly is it disrespectin’ for kids to name a toy cow in honour of Mohammed?

It is doubtful the children were thinking along those lines. disrespect it would seem is in the eye of the beholder, the more paranoid the more disrespect.

Liz said...

Ah but it wasn't apparent in the beginning that any parents had taken offence yet someone reported the teacher ...

I think you should be careful. The man with the shed might appear to be pre-occupied but inside the shed is a an altar to Ptah (may his name be always spelled correctly) and he hasn't yet decided on the size of the sacrifical table.

Julie said...

Two weeks in the nick, which will probably work out to be a few days, and every prospect of a book deal to boot? Doesn't sound too harsh to me - why's everyone so sure she didn't know what she was doing? ;-)

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