Sudan pardons the Teddy Bear teacher
CNN reports that "Sudan's president Omar al-Bashir pardoned a British teacher convicted of insulting religion, presidential palace sources said. ... Without a pardon, she would have remained in jail another six days."
The pardon came following efforts by Nazir Ahmed and Sayeeda Warsi, Muslim members of the House of Lords, to persuade the Sudanese government that releasing Gibbons would create international goodwill toward their country.
Ahmed, who is a member of the House of Lords --the UK's upper parliamentary chamber, told CNN that Sudan's president was impressed that Gibbons intended no harm.
"This was an unfortunate, unintentional, innocent misunderstanding," Ahmed said.
The "unfortunate, unintentional, innocent misunderstanding" recalls another recent incident involving Jimmy Carter and Omar al-Bashir.
KABKABIYA, Sudan - Former President Carter got in a shouting match Wednesday with Sudanese security services who blocked him from a town in Darfur where he was trying to meet with refugees from the ongoing conflict. ...
“You can’t go. It’s not on the program!” the local security chief, who only gave his first name as Omar, yelled at Carter, who is in Darfur as part of a delegation of respected international figures known as “The Elders.” “We’re going to anyway!” an angry Carter retorted as a crowd began to gather. “You don’t have the power to stop me.”
Carter of course, was stopped. He then vowed to tell President Omar al-Bashir about about this indignity.
“I’ll tell President Bashir about this,” Carter said, referring to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. Carter later agreed to a compromise by which tribal representatives would be brought to him at another location later Wednesday. But the refugee delegates never showed up.
It's an elementary negotiating tactic for one side to manufacture an intentional grievance in order to use it as a bargaining chip. In this case President Omar al-Bashir made Britain jump through hoops so that he could authorize the release of a teacher six days early for the crime of asking her students to name a teddy bear. Al-Bashir gets something for nothing. It would be ludicrous if it weren't so effective.
There now will follow the ridiculous spectacle of European heads of state, religious leaders, celebrities and parliamentarians tripping all over themselves to express gratitude that his excellency Omar al-Bashir was benevolent enough to save Gibbons from maddened lynch mobs or being flogged within an inch of her life.
How far ahead does the intellectual light of the West shine? Can it see where it is going? Down and down it traipses along "the stairway which leads to a dark gulf. It is a fine broad stairway at the beginning, but after a bit the carpet ends. A little farther on there are only flagstones, and a little farther on still these break beneath your feet ..." Will they care? Will they even notice?