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In the name of teddy
by Thanos Kalamidas
2007-11-30 09:47:41
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My daughter is a very lucky child in many ways and one of them is because she’s attending a daycare school with kids of all different languages, ethnicity and backgrounds. I have to admit that from the very first parents’ meeting I was happy with the sight of all these kids playing together, learning that they are all the same despite colour or family background. Gradually we got used to hearing of all these names in the house, since Aisha did that one day or Mohamed brought this toy and Patrick said that. If you have small kids you know well what a joy it is to listen to all of these stories and try to connect the names with the small kids and the parents you have met.

My daughter loves painting and naturally her surroundings inspire her talent, so we have a house with a big smiling sun, then we have a lot of pictures with mom and dad, dad in front of his computer, mom and dad smiling, mom and her bicycle; occasionally her paintings have a guest star, a cousin or a best friend and, as you know, kids at this age have a different best friend from one day to the other. And then one day she makes a beautiful and colourful painting with all of her best friends and she asked me to write each name under the sketch… here we have Aisha, and this is Patrick and here is Mohamed!

The next day, just like any other proud parent, I take the picture and put it on the wall behind my desk, always ready to explain what the picture is all about. Of course, my daughter is three years old and definitely not a Turner, more likely the cubic period of a painter with big round heads, eyes that one is small and the other bigger, fingers that look more like sausages and legs that go forever. A colleague of mine comes inside checks the sketch and then he asks, ‘Is this Mohamed?’ The proud father, impressed that everybody can understand that behind these shapes there is a figure, admits that this is Mohamed.

The big question now is who should get the thirty lashes and one year in prison? My three year old daughter or me, or perhaps who should be stoned to death in the central square, my daughter or I? You see, according to my fanatical and blind colleague, the picture was not a happy classroom of three year olds but, according to the Saria laws, it is an insult to Islam to attempt to make an image of the Prophet Muhammad.

You think that I exaggerate a bit, well perhaps I do, but what’s the difference between this fantastic story and the reality Mrs. Gibbons lives this moment in Sudan? By the way, have you had a look at Mrs. Gibbon pictures? They are everywhere in the media. When I first saw her picture I said without thinking, I know this woman, it is Mrs. Sofia, my school teacher. Of course she’s not Mrs. Sofia and the certain lady was my teacher something like …forty years ago but the face, the shape, the style is so familiar.

Nearly all of us had a teacher who was dreaming to teach the poor kids somewhere in Africa, in Asia or in South America. Not a missionary, just a simple teacher with a very soft soul and very romantic heart who believed that teachers can change the world. They are always full of beautiful stories and always bothering too much for the well being of the kids. Apparently they were always the ones who gave the best grades. All of us had a Mrs. Gibbons in our school years and if not us then the classroom next door teaching our siblings.

Just look at her face in all these photos and you will understand. Provoking a nation and clerics is miles away from her mind, she just never thinks like that, she only wants to teach, give the chance as she sees it, to share her knowledge. And yes Mrs. Gibbons had other motives to be there as well, a recent divorce after a very long marriage, the feeling that the kids had gone to live their own lives, a bit of adventure and of course some extra money. Escapism, that’s the word, the woman wanted to escape for a bit and, at the same time, do make her teaching dream come true. Does anybody think that this woman went there having an agenda to make wild all the fanatics especially living in the times we do?

And then in her classroom there is one kid who is the dude, the coolest of all. All girls love him, all the girls want to hold hands with him and when it comes the time and after they rejected all the silly names for the nameless teddy they decided – and it was all the girls united – that the teddy should get the name of the cute boy! Mohamed! At the same time the school secretary who thinks that if she collects infidel heads on her belt she will go to paradise reports the event to the local fanatics, ‘the infidel calls a teddy …Mohamed, the name of the prophet.’ The rest you have read in the papers over the last few days.

These are the facts, so what remains is to see if the official state, the Muslim leaders and the followers of what suppose to be a faith of love, peace and brotherhood in Sudan, are going to practice the same tolerance they demand from the rest of the world. I’m really sorry to say that but the way it has been publicized from the same exactly people it will be a test for Muslims all around the world.

P.S. Something I’ve read in a blog today: Rumors have it that the teddy has already been stoned or beheaded.

    
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Emanuel Paparella2007-11-30 10:35:56
Quite right! But, the real test, it seems to me, is and will remain whether or not human rights are based on the dignity of each and every human individual, guaranteed as such, or on the whim of those who wield power in a State or on an institution or on an ideology in collusion with political power. There is a crucial difference between the two: the former rights are inalienable, the latter are rather arbitrary, conditioned by the good or bad will of those who hold power, or on the strength of a State to suppress the kind of fanaticism unable to distinguish religion from cults or ideologies.

To return briefly to yesterday’s comment on Mr. Barroso. Even if Mr. Barroso has momentarily forgotten what human rights are all about and goes off to confabulate with a Mugabe, the EU citizen ought to feel confident that his/her rights do not depend on the strength or weakness of Mr. Barroso’s memory or on his “misremembering.” To reiterate, when the intelligent atheist in America reads “in God we trust” on the currency he uses daily, he knows as an intelligent atheist that he may of course continue to enjoy the freedom of not believing in God in a state which separates politics and religion and sponsors religious freedom, but he also knows, or ought to know, that his human rights are not arbitrary and decided by those who wield political power, but on the fact that they accrue to all persons as such, none excluded. The not so intelligent atheist will of course get offended by the very word God on his currency. But as Robert Burn used to quip: “A Man is a Man for a that.”


Emanuel Paparella2007-11-30 10:42:54
(continued from above)

Unfortunately, those who refuse to conceive of human rights as inalienable are left with precious little more than raw Machiavellian power politick to decide the issue. The marines with half of the British navy will have to be dispoatched to rescue the teacher and teach the fanatics a lesson.


Mohammed Teddy Bear2007-11-30 14:29:23
Every Teddy Bear in the world is going to be named Mohammed. Now it will be known as the Mohammed Teddy Bear. Eeesh.


I want a Teddy Bear named2007-11-30 14:31:55
Muhammad Da Bear


Sand2007-11-30 15:40:46
The latest news reports are that local crowds are gathering demanding the death of the teacher. So much for the peaceful claims of those Muslims.


Thanos2007-11-30 19:06:24
I just cannot believe how far this fanaticism will go, furthermore I cannot understand some of the reactions of Muslims in Europe, from what I've read they really believe that she did it on purpose and they demand a harder punishment!


Clint2007-11-30 19:33:13
The vast majority of Muslims in the UK have given their vocal support for Mrs.Gibbons very innocent mistake, but once again the British Government in the form of David Miliband has let down one of their subjects very badly not reacting for 4 days following her arrest. Hold your heads in shame. Lets hope Sudan doesn't suffer a natural disaster in the next couple of years. Help from the UK may well be limited.


Sand2007-11-30 19:49:41
Insofar as dispatching the navy and marines to assault the Muslim authorities is concerned, the totally stupid action would certainly create a lesson that would cause counter reactions throughout the Muslim world of frightful proportions.


Clint2007-11-30 20:01:46
One would hope that there is a little room for diplomacy between doing nothing and deploying the troops Sand ... besides we haven't got any soldiers left on these shores they are all in Iraq and Afghanistan!!


Emanuel Paparella2007-11-30 21:26:38
Not surprisingly, either irony is lost on the truculent, or one plays the disengenous five year old unaware of irony, to turn the argument around. One of shabbiest tricks around usually found in the arsenal of those who tackle issue with argumenti ad hominem. The point made as regards miliary clashes of civilization was actually simple: if one does not accept human rights as inalienable and applying to all human beings on earth, then, when confronted with fanaticism and intolerance of any kind, not excluding that of anti-religion, one is left with no option but Machiavellian brute force to resolve a conflict.

In point of fact in surveying some of the blogs on the subject, it is quite alarming to notice that what many wish to resort to that kind of unwise action: to simply solve the problem by dropping a few nuclear bombs on Sudan and the whole of the Moslem world. Which confirms my point that as of now, with ideas like that and despite the rhetoric about Europeans being new peaceful men from Venus while Americans are all from Mars, we cannot be too sanguine about the prospects of avoiding an eventual catastrophic clash of civilizations. I am afraid that the fanaticism exists on both sides of the fence. All one has to do is look carefully.


Sand2007-12-01 04:47:42
Paparella, your huge talent for trucking irrelevant junk into a discussion to camouflage your total lack of integrity and absence of anything significant to contribute is your standard approach.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-01 11:14:33
"QUO USQUE TANDEM ABUTERE, CATILINA, PATIENTIA NOSTRA? Quam diu etiam furor iste tuus nos eludet? quem ad finem sese effrenata jactabit audacia?"

--Cicero

Translation: How long, O Catiline, will you abuse our patience? How long is that madness of yours still to mock us? When is there to be an end of that unbridled audacity of yours?

To Catilina redivivus: the question is still very relevant 2000 years later whenever one meets that type of man, the one who substitutes egregious insults to the discussion of the issues. It is like the teen-ager with a gun: he believes he acquires respect from his peers by carrying one.



Sand2007-12-01 11:50:59
Poor Paparella. No audacity whatsoever is required to be amused at what can be perceived as a mere human bulletin board with no capability to exist as an expressive living being but merely a place to tack quotations from various sources that refer to other places, other times, other situations.


Eva2007-12-01 14:46:07
No wonder there is war in the world if a thing like this gets this kind of a reaction. I've been following the story, hardly believing my eyes.
Religon. Such a beautiful thing, eh?


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-01 18:26:59
Perhaps those in the West who wish to solve the problem with a few nuclear bombs are also misguidedly advocating such a solution in the name of religion. I'll keep my mind open about it, but I kind of doubt it. That kind of machavellian advocacy seens to be the other side of the coin of fanaticism.


Sand2007-12-01 18:44:16
It's a badly phrased hope but better said that no intelligent reason can be formulated for using atomic weapons.


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-02 06:58:55
Beyond distracting, immature and obfuscating argumenti ad hominem there is this fact which perhaps bears reiteration for those with an open imaginative mind: on one side there are those extremists who misguidedly think they are defending their religious values with their intolerant attitudes but are in reality advocating an ideology; on the other side of the coin of ideological intolerance you have those "enlightened" moderns looking down their nose at what they consider a medieval mind-set who think that the problem is best solved once and for all not with reason, not even with misguided and counter-productive caricatures but with nuclear bombs, thus eliminating both religion and those who practice it. Of the two, the greater intolerant fanatics by far are the latter. Their advocacy of a "final solution" can easily be found on many a blog and deserves just as much attention and discussion as the fanaticism of the former.


Sand2007-12-02 07:09:18
Wow! Talk about obfuscation!


Emanuel Paparella2007-12-02 23:27:43
Or could it be the opposite: the message has been understood only too well and not having liked it one attacks the messanger with insults. Ah, the wonders of rationalism!


Andrew2007-12-02 23:32:48
The problem in Darfur has been created by the western governments to abuse and destroy the Sudanese oils’ development in Darfur and to kill the people in Darfur which are always well-known. Moreover, General Martin Luther Agwai is a rented military by western governments to kill and destroy Sudan’s people. I wonder if UN and AU really want peace for the world nations, they must have been fighting the military junta of Burma where more than 10 million people have been forced to flee the country and more than 4 million have been killed, and the issue of Burma is a difficult problem since 1962, but the UN does not nothing, therefore, we don’t believe UN is not an international organization that works for peace and democracy for all nationals, but UN only works with the order of western governments. UN is no longer an international organization, but it is an organization of western governments.


Andrew2007-12-02 23:38:54
The problem in Darfur has been created by the western governments to abuse and destroy the Sudanese oils’ development in Darfur and to kill the people in Darfur which are always well-known. Moreover, General Martin Luther Agwai is a rented military by western governments to kill and destroy Sudan’s people. I wonder if UN and AU really want peace for the world nations, they must have been fighting the military junta of Burma where more than 10 million people have been forced to flee the country and more than 4 million have been killed, and the issue of Burma has been an international difficult problem since 1962, but the UN does nothing, therefore, we don’t believe UN is an international organization that works for peace and democracy for all nationals, but UN only works with the order of western governments. UN is no longer an international organization, but it is an organization of western governments.


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