MPAC Appalled by Sudanese Jailing of Teacher for Naming Teddy Bear ‘Muhammad’


(Washington, DC - 11/30/07)—The Muslim Public Affairs Council today expressed its disgust with the Sudanese court decision to jail and beat a British teacher who allowed her students to name a class teddy bear “Muhammad.”


SEE: “Calls in Sudan for Execution of British Teacher” (New York Times, 11/30/07)


The hundreds of protesters, some waving ceremonial swords, outside the presidential palace denouncing the teacher and calling for her execution are falling into a pathetic trap by making a story out of nothing. The leaflets condemned Gibbons as an “infidel” and accused her of “the pollution of children’s mentality” by her actions.

“Jailing Ms. Gibbons is the real insult to Islam in this case,” said MPAC Communications Director Edina Lekovic. “Invoking Islamic law to jail and deport her for this insignificant class project is absurd and appalling.”

Gillian Gibbons was given 15 days in jail yesterday after she was convicted of insulting Islam after asking her seven-year-old students to pick their favorite name for the new class mascot, which she was using to aid lessons about animals and their habitats. She was cleared of charges of inciting hatred and showing contempt for religious beliefs. British leaders expect that a deal will be reached, and Gibbons will be released and deported.

Resorting to violence in order to “defend” Islam and the Prophet is a violation of both the Quran and Prophet’s own example. The sanctity of human life and human accountability are core Islamic tenets. In response to those who subjected him to repeated ridicule and contempt, Prophet Muhammad offered kindness and forgiveness rather than anger, hate or violence. Muslims should not pervert the legacy of the Prophet by making Islam appear intolerant and violent.

Founded in 1988, the Muslim Public Affairs Council is an American institution which informs and shapes public opinion and policy by serving as a trusted resource to decision makers in government, media and policy institutions. MPAC is also committed to developing leaders with the purpose of enhancing the political and civic participation of Muslim Americans.