AMERICAN ISLAMIC CONGRESS SLAMS SUDAN OVER TEDDY BEAR CASE/update
The American Islamic Congress today slammed the Sudanese government for jailing (see picture) a British teacher over a teddy bear’s name and demanded her immediate release from prison.
“We denounce this fabricated outrage,” stated Nasser Weddady, the organization’s Civil Rights Outreach Director. “The Sudanese government’s ridiculous case trivializes the feelings of Muslims around the world.”
Earlier today, the Sudanese government charged Gillian Gibbons, a teacher at Unity High School in Khartoum, with insulting religion and inciting hatred for naming a class teddy bear"Muhammad." She faces up to 40 lashes and six months in prison.
“The sad legacy of the Danish cartoon riots is that we have to speak out immediately when extremists try to provoke clashes over trivial matters,” Weddady explained. “This is not about cultural sensitivities. There is no excuse for someone to be sent to jail and whipped over a teddy bear’s name. Ms. Gibbons needs to be freed at once.”
Jana El-Horr, a Peacebuilding Fellow with the American Islamic Congress, noted that the Sudanese regime is trying to distract attention from the ongoing genocide in Darfur. “Muslims around the world are horrified over the brutal killings in Darfur,” El-Horr explained. “Now the Sudanese regime is trying to rally support by putting on the ‘defender of Islam’ hat. But we won’t be fooled.”
The Teddy Bear Outrage comes public perception of Muslims continues to decline, as documented in a recent Pew Forum poll.
“The Muslim world has much more pressing and urgent problems to deal with than a random teddy bear,” Weddady observed. “This ridiculous case has the potential to further tarnish popular perceptions of Muslims. What’s truly offensive here is the action of the Sudanese regime, which only entrenches the perception of Muslims as hyper-sensitive.”
The American Islamic Congress is a civil-rights organization promoting tolerance and the exchange of ideas among Muslims and between other peoples. With the motto “passionate about moderation,” the organization leads initiatives around the world and has offices in Washington, Boston, Egypt, and Iraq.
British Imam calls on Sudan to release the teacher.
The teacher was found guilty and sentenced to 15 days in prison. Rioters in Sudan burn her picture and call for a harsher sentence!
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