November 27, 2007

A Bear Named Muhammad

Ms. Gillian Gibbons, a British teacher in Sudan, is in the slammers in Khartoum. Her crime? Insulting the prophet of Islam by allowing her 7-year old students to name a Teddy Bear as Muhammad. The kids had proposed Abdullah, Hassan and Muhammad, and then voted in favor of Muhammad. If convicted Ms. Gibbons can be imprisoned up to six months or given 40 lashes. The Government of Sudan has defended its action against her, by asserting that the rule of law must prevail, as it does in any other country. Sure, we all know how the rule of law prevails in Darfur, don't we? The Sudanese legal system, of course, is based on Sharia.

This whole thing about insulting Islam is getting crazier by the minute. Although other religious fanatics have also been culprits on occasions, no one seems to be as sensitive as the fellows who call themselves by the M-word. Is it o.k. in Italy or Spain to name my cat Mary? How about a dog named Mao in China? Or a donkey named Jesus in the United States? In India, naming a monkey Hanuman should be fine. In my alma mater in Kolkota, there was monkey that had a penchant to chase the girl students. The guys were quick to name it Rasputin. As for as I know, no orthodox Hindu was offended. Naming a pig Kannagi or Sita, however, may be inviting trouble. At the very least, I'll be harassed in a dozen courts across the country, by those who'd sue me under Section 295(a) and 298 of the Indian Penal Code, for hurting the sentiments of the Tamils and the Hindus.

I don't understand why Ms. Gibbons should have attempted to give a name to the bear. It already has one — Teddy. Teddy is short for Edward, which is "derived from Old English words ead (meaning "rich, blessed") and weard (meaning "guard"), according to the Wikipedia. I guess it's alright to call an animal "Blessed" in any religion. Otherwise everyone who owns one of these cuddly dolls may be forced to follow Prince Rogers Nelson, and call it "The Bear Formerly Known As Teddy"!

1 comment :
  1. And I thought the cuddly bear was named after Ted Kennedy!
    As far as the issue of religious sentiments is concerned, it seems to be a bottomless pit!


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