As every one in Britain is probably aware, Gillian Gibbons, a British teacher in Sudan, has been sentanced to 15 days for allowing her pupils to name the class Teddy Bear Mohammed.  This apparently was so anti-Islam, so hateful, so calculated to insult Muslims, she had to be punished. 15 days in a third world prison, with a crowd of a 1000 protesting, some demanding the death penalty. 

Radio 5 phone in this morning seemed to divide into two camps- the “punish the wogs” type, and the “it’s her own fault for not researching the culture” band.

This is nothing to do with religeon.  This is a classic case of people being used.  Yes there are a few nutters to whom this is such a great insult that they want her dead.  But they are a minority.  There are Christian fundies in the US who would be no better, a point to remember before listening to those who would shout about Muslim barbarians.  There are also too many so called “jihaddis” who seem to take offence at every little comment.

I do not believe that this has anything to do with religeon.  Saddam wrapped himself in Islam to defy the West, though he seemed really not to care that much- Tariq Aziz, his PM is Christian, changing his name to fit in. Baghdad also has a synagog.

 Likewise the Sudanese government is allowing its self the same luxury- using the religeous extremists to mask the position.  Western governments know what the message is- they understand exactly what the Sudanese dictator ship is saying.  “Stay out of Darfur”.

Sudan has been under sustained pressure over its actions in Darfur.  Gibbons is a handy patsy. The message is clear “Intervene, and we will manufacture religeous hatred”.  The Sudanese government are playing to the gallery, the same way as Saddam did- there will always people guillible enough to believe you are their hero, and an attack on you is an attack on them.  It is just possible those protesters are helping to continue their own repression.