Monday, December 03, 2007

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?

16 Comments:

Blogger Starling said...

Before coming to teach in the United Arab Emirates, I was sure that every week or two I would have to meet with the dean. I was sure this would be necessary for him to help remove my foot from my mouth for having inadvertently said something that offended someone. The exact opposite turned out to be the case.

I found my students to be far less sensitive than I had anticipated and quite willing to engage in dialog about matters that were sensitive (e.g. Dubai Ports World, the Danish cartoons and ensuing boycott). I have found the same to be true in Qatar where I now teach.

I mention this only because though the UAE and Qatar are not Sudan, they are close enough geographically (and in other ways) to be lumped together in ways that are neither accurate nor flattering.

There are countries in this part of the world making impressive, albeit slow, strides in the modernization of their economic, political, and educational systems.

For the most part, they are the ones that are not in the process of committing genocide against their own citizens, that are not state-sponsors of terrorism, and that are not openly hostile to the West.

It seems to me that no good can come from teaching, at any grade level, in countries like Sudan or any others that do not fit this profile. Unless, of course, your idea of "good" includes being used as a pawn, or worse.

12/03/2007 06:49:00 AM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

Starling,

I too taught in the UAE! Where did you teach? I second your report on how the students were open to polite give & take discussions. Most were smart & open enough to realize the difference between ignorance and belligerence.

Anyway, Wretchard's post reminds me of the Sara Balabagan case in the UAE. The maid (a muslim woman from the Philippines) was sentenced to death for killing the local who was trying to raper her and Sheik Zayed stepped in and pardoned her. I think that was a setup from the start.

The other case was Mohamar Qaddafi ransoming the European hostages (kidnapped from Malaysia, IIRC) Abu Sayyaf was holding. Not only did he get to fund a terror group he got to look good for it.

12/03/2007 07:22:00 AM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

Starling,

I see you were at the American University in Sharjah. That was a couple steps up from the UGRU (a part of the UAE University) in Al-Ain where I taught.

12/03/2007 07:34:00 AM  
Blogger Neo Conservative said...

*
how many people, over the course of human history, have killed, or died... because of their unshakeable belief that their beads were holier than everybody elses'.

*

12/03/2007 09:07:00 AM  
Blogger al fin said...

The president of Sudan showed rare good sense. He could see that this fiasco was embarassing the hell out of his already besieged country on the international scene.

China's oil companies are sucking Sudan dry, and giving its government all the money it needs to live in luxury. With all the bad publicity from Darfur, the last thing Sudan needs is another cause celebre.

12/03/2007 09:28:00 AM  
Blogger Clyde said...

Excellent post.

The only thing I'd add is that upon her return to the UK, she will be accorded celebrity status. It is scripted: there will be interviews both by tabloids and on TV, and there will inevitably be a book contract. She will enjoy her moment of fame.

And, she will follow the by now all-too-predictable multicultural meme: she will express affection for and tolerance of the savages who jerked the west around yet again, and use her pardon for the crime of "religious insensitivity" as an example of reason and negotiation over force.

Of course, the sequel to this is that westerners will be just that much more careful about what they say, lest they offend one or two overly sensitive muslims who can stir the pot and make them targets of enraged mobs.

Which, of course, was probably the point of the entire exercise.

One author of children's books, books intended to celebrate the multicultural virtue of diversity, has already renamed "Mohammad the Mole" to "Morgan the Mole." http://tinyurl.com/375mb5

Perhaps he should add a character: he might call it Dhimmi the Multicultural Duck.

The issue isn't how many enlightened, kind and gentle Muslims have, but the power wielded by the few who are not so enlightened, kind and gentle.

12/03/2007 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

The Taliban government in Afghanistan lost much of its support worldwide when it dynamited a couple of old Budha statues. I'm sure the government of Sudan learned from this. Actions have consequences. Threats, on the other hand, gain concessions.

12/03/2007 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger Dymphna said...

Starling!

Someone used the past tense here. I hope you're still in the UAE. I'd better go over to your site and reassure myself.

12/03/2007 10:42:00 AM  
Blogger Zenster said...

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.

A bit of media spin there. Shouldn't that read "defuse international condemnation of their country"?

This is but one more verse sung by the "Chorus of the Perpetually Aggrieved" (hat tip to Lars Vilks). Islam amounts to nothing more than skinless people living in a sandpaper world. That they demand we accommodate their incessant outrage over our routine exercise of inherent freedoms stands as a monumental affront to Western liberty.

We are in no way obliged to tiptoe about because Islam elects to have an eggshell ego. Rather, it would seem long past tea to start making some Napoleonic omelets.

12/03/2007 10:42:00 AM  
Blogger always right said...

Re: Clyde

You have something against the ducks? Shouldn't it be Dhimmi the Multicultural Donkey?

12/03/2007 11:11:00 AM  
Blogger What is "Occupation" said...

For the most part, they are the ones that are not in the process of committing genocide against their own citizens, that are not state-sponsors of terrorism, and that are not openly hostile to the West.


yawn....

oh that's right murdering israelis is a resistance to "occupation" and therefore not terrorism

It's time we get off oil...

sorry I am not impressed with UAE or Qatar...

I am less impressed with the sudenese, arabians, palestinians, lebanese, iranians, syrians and on and on...

color me a skeptic

12/03/2007 12:48:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Long term however Wretchard, most people in the West will simply conclude that Muslims, all Muslims are like the howling mobs in the Sudan and are not worth the powder to blow them to hell.

Meanwhile China is not only active in the Sudan via oil companies, it likely has plans for that country (exporting it's own restive young men). Certainly Sudan cannot fend for itself against a China that simply takes.

The West will simply shrug and figure they all had it coming.

12/03/2007 01:08:00 PM  
Blogger Clyde said...

always right said:

"Re: Clyde

You have something against the ducks? Shouldn't it be Dhimmi the Multicultural Donkey?"

Heh. Maybe so, given that the Democratic Party's mascot is a donkey.

They remind me of the wonderful Joseph Heller quip about Major Major and his having worked to achieve mediocrity.

One could paraphrase and apply Heller's gibe to the Dems: Some people are born Dhimmis, others have Dhimmitude thrust upon them. But the Democrats want to achieve Dhimmitude the old fashioned way: through good old hard work.

And from Malkin, we find a URL taking us towards yet another example of self-censorship. http://tinyurl.com/2wh7l6

It turns out that the Hague museum has decided not to exhibit a picture that might offend muslims. Money quote: "The Gemeentemuseum’s director Wim van Krimpen told reporters the museum is interested in purchasing Hera’s complete series, which he called 'high quality works of art'. However, he added he will not exhibit Adam and Ewald in the next few years because 'certain people in our society might perceive it as offensive'."

Ya think?

12/03/2007 02:10:00 PM  
Blogger Steve M said...

Clyde,

I thought that you made an outstanding post above. Will you give me permission to publish it as a 'Guest Post by Clyde' on blogolob?

12/03/2007 03:46:00 PM  
Blogger Clyde said...

Steve M said...
"Clyde,

I thought that you made an outstanding post above. Will you give me permission to publish it as a 'Guest Post by Clyde' on blogolob?"

Wow! I'm flattered. Please feel free.

12/03/2007 04:01:00 PM  
Blogger Steve M said...

Thanks Clyde.

You're up at blogolob. Headlining too!

Please let me know whether you're ok with the minor edits I made and whether you want your name at the top to link anywhere.

Regards
Steve

12/03/2007 04:56:00 PM  

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