Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Release of the Teddy Bear Teacher

The cynic in me is reluctant to be too pleased with the decision on the part of the Somalian government to "pardon" the teacher convicted of insulting Islam by allowing her students to name a teddy bear Mohammed. I do not know what went on behind the scenes. Was this, perhaps, an international 'kidnapping' - the Somalian government abducts a British citizen, and Brittian pays a 'ransom' in the form of some closed-door political deal in order to get her back?

The moral case has not changed. Those who called for the execution, those who argued for and defended the proposition that this teacher should have been punished, are deserving of condemnation and contempt. Those who are merely 'disappointed' in their claims or thought that punishment was an 'overreation' are giving credibility to some increadible moral absurdities.

The article contains this quote:

Her release came after two British Muslim lawmakers, Sayeeda Warsi and Nazir Ahmed -- both members of the House of Lords -- persuaded the Sudanese government that letting Gibbons go free would create international goodwill toward their country.

Create goodwill?

So, perhaps if Sudan were to arrest a few hundred more foreigners, sentence them, and then release them, they would be named humanitarians of the year.

At best, among morally responsible people, the act 'lessens the amount of international illwill that the country deserves', but it should, at least, create no goodwill.

Pardoning the teacher is a more moral option than a stricter sentence or even 'more of the same'. However, it does not change the fact that she should never have been arrested, and the charges under which she was arrested should not exist. The laws are still on the books, they are still a threat to anybody who should dare 'insult Islam', and for this alone Sudan is still worthy of condemnation, not 'international goodwill'.

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