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Thursday, November 29

Gillian Gibbons, an unlikely Helen of Troy

Crikey, this story is getting bigger, nastier, and more surreal by the hour -- ever since Khartoum decided on Wednesday to charge Gillian with blasphemy, inciting hatred and insulting Islam. This, because she allowed her seven-year-old students in Sudan to name a class teddy bear "Muhammad."

The British government, not to mention the British people and reasonable people the world over, are furious about the situation. One Briton called for 10,000 British paratroopers to land in Sudan and rescue Gillian from her jail cell.

According to The New York Times, some Sudan analysts speculate that Khartoum's decision could be retaliatory:
On Tuesday, the British ambassador to the United Nations asked the Security Council to address warrants against a Sudanese official and a militia leader accused of war crimes in Darfur [...]
But Islamic militants in Sudan are calling for mass demonstrations against Gillian and want her punished to the extent of the law.

If Gillian is found guilty and flogged, international outrage will translate into serious consequences for Sudan. The London Times reports today that
Britain is “reviewing its options” for retaliatory measures against Khartoum should Ms Gibbons be hurt. These could include the expulsion of Sudanese diplomats, tightening travel restrictions on the regime’s leading figures and cutting aid.
The consequences could also be serious for Islam. It seems Islamists are hell bent on portraying Islam as the world's most primitive religion and form of government.

I can't believe that in this era, a defense attorney might have to ask questions such as, 'Why didn't the authorities charge Gillian's class with blasphemy, given that it was the children who actually named the teddy bear?'

And, 'Why do the authorities insist on identifying a stuffed toy as an animal? Does the law state that it is blasphemy to give the Prophet's name to a toy?'

This is going beyond surreal. This is Twilight Zone stuff.
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