More muslim idiocy

The BBC has announced that a British school teacher in Sudan has been arrested for allowing her class to name a teddy bear Mohammed, thereby insulting the prophet. (Cripes, if I had a dog right now, guess what I’d change his name to?) It’s possible that she may get up to six months in jail, 40 lashes, or a fine. I am not even going to comment on this except to say that I’m really sick of hearing about these idiotic laws and outrages over ridiculous things like cartoons and teddy bears, and I’m even sicker of hearing apologists for some invisible moderate form of Islam whine, “but not all Muslims are like that.” Sigh.


Donna Druchunas is a freelance technical writer and editor and a knitwear designer. When she's not working, she blogs, studies Lithuanian, reads science and sci-fi books, mouths off on atheist forums, and checks her email every three minutes. (She does that when she's working, too.) Although she loves to chat, she can't keep an IM program open or she'd never get anything else done.

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  1. "I count religion but a childish toy,

    And hold there is no sin but ignorance."

    –Chrisopher Marlowe

  2. Has anyone given thought to the idea that Muhammad, in some form or other, is the most common name in the world?

    Quoting the Wiki article for lack of better off hand reference:

    According to the sixth edition of The Columbia Encyclopedia (2000), Muhammad is "probably the most common given name" in the world, including variations.[14] It is estimated that more than 15 million people in the world bear the name Muhammad.[15]

    Over 15 million? That's a heck of a lot of blasphemous people. And this isn't even TOUCHING on Teddy Bears!!

  3. So, naming a beloved toy after a beloved prophet is an insult to Islam. But over the top reactions, dragging a essentially innocent, if naive, woman to jail over naming a beloved toy after a beloved prophet doesn't?

    I so don't understand the mind of the Fundementalist.


  4. The Fundamentalist does not, I believe, HAVE a mind. At least one he/she chooses to use. They have instead an inerrant book or set of rules that must be followed. There is nothing there to "understand." They are simply carbon-based robots with rigid behavioral algorithms.

  5. Well, not to voluntarily place myself in the People Who Annoy The Skepchick category, but there really are moderate Muslims who work against ridiculousness of the varieties you mention. Check out this detailed explanation about tolerance within Islam, by an Islamic UCLA professor. Also, there's the Al-Fatiha Foundation, which supports LGBT rights, following a liberal evaluation of Islamic texts. And that's just stuff I found with a quick Google search.

    I think you could make a strong case that, on average and at present, Islam is less tolerant than other religions. But, it's just incorrect to say that there are no moderate or tolerant people practicing Islam, or that they're "invisible". The thing about nutcases within any given community is that that they are generally louder and more obnoxious than reasonable people, which masks them out.

    I'm an atheist, so I can't really comment on any deep level about conflicts within religion; it all seems about equally silly to me. I just don't like seeing good people lumped in with wackos.

  6. There does come a point where, if the wackos are allowed to dictate the

    agenda ("Let's close the school for a month or two because some wacko or other might attack it, or might stir up a mob of sheep to attack it") and their people/governments aren't prepared to stand up to them, then 'good' people are complicit to an extent.

    If there's an element of a moderate believer being scared to say "*That* believer needs locking up" because the wacko is actually taking the religion literally, than that's a fundamental problem with the religion, not just with the wacko.

  7. carbon, thanks for that link. I will check it out. I'm ambivilent about moderate Chrsitians and Muslims. I agree with PH's comment: it seems like they don't crack the whip against their fanatical kin often or loud enough, but it could just be that the press doesn't cover them because they're boring. That said, if the moderates allow the religious wackos to speak for them and represent them in public, then they deserve to be lumped together. If you've been reading this blog for a while, you'll see that this is a recurring theme for me… not sure how to feel about the moderate religious folk. I wish they'd come to their senses and walk away, basically.

  8. From the article:

    "The spokesman said the naming of the teddy happened months ago and was chosen by the children because it is a common name in the country."

    Perhaps the 40 lashes should be given to the children?

  9. I think that it's all well and good for moderate AMERICAN Muslims to do what they do. But they are not a majority, nor do they carry any weight in the Muslim world. The issue is that, in socieities where a fundamentalist version of Islam has taken root, there IS no criticism. It is forbidden. To speak up is to present your neck to the executioner.

    People from that sort of culture have little reason to speak up at home, and also seem to be less inclined to do so, on the whole, when they disperse. I'm thinking of the British Muslims/emigres who, according to some reports, continue to allow VERY fundamentalist imams to preach despite the fact that much of what they are saying clashes with British law and culture. There are exceptions, such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali (who almost goes too far the other way with her neo-con pals) and others who have left intolerant Muslim societies to turn around and criticize them, but this is the exception rather than the rule.

    The primary reason that Islam and Islamic principles OUTSIDE of the US generate very little criticism is simply that bit of holy law about killing non-believers and apostates. People are fearful of shunning or, more likely, retribution, for criticising leaders (religious and political) they've been brought up to believe have the inside track to Allah.

    And that's also where the primary difference with fundamentalist Christianity lies. Christians have no commandment to HARM those who divert or with whom they disagree. Typically they just take the holier-than-though or missionary approach to these issues. And while fundy Xtians do sometimes resort to physically and mentally violent tactics to deal with issues (abortion clinic bombings, for instance), these tactics are NOT considered the norm by anyone with any measure of widespread power. Unlike the Muslim world, where imams and Ayatollahs and what have you actually ENCOURAGE violence.

    This is why secular/moderate Muslims in non-majority Muslim nations really ought to make their allegiance to less violent means CLEAR. I don't see any real way to change ingrained cultures that are thousands of years old and stifle all dissent aside from, somehow, appealing to the common person that there IS another way and hoping, in time, that enough of them agree to remove the more bloody-minded from power or find a way to replace them from within.

  10. Christians have no commandment to HARM those who divert or with whom they disagree.

    But they haven't always seen it that way in the past and who knows what would happen if they were given complete political power.

  11. @writerdd

    Oh, absolutely. My point is simply that it is not now a direct, widely-held tenet of Christian faith to kill/injure those who are not Christians or who turn away from Christianity. That may not always have been the case, certainly, as the Inquisition and Crusades would tell you, but there is no body akin to, say, the Vatican or the governing board of various protestant sects who CURRENTLY believes this to be a part of their faith. This stands in contrast to many Islamic nations/sects.

    I'm not QUITE so gloom-and-doom in my thinking that I'd expect violence against non-Christians to become the norm here any time soon regardless of who's in power…but I often wonder if people felt the same way in 1920s Germany. Regardless, I HOPE that the firm foundations of the US would help somewhat to prevent such a thing. Otherwise, and forgive the irony, god help us :-P

  12. I think there's something in Islam about naming your first born son after the prophet Mohamed, which is the main reason so many male middle-easterners are so named.

  13. I was thinking about this some more yesterday, and it occurs to me that respect for the name "Muhammad" is not unlike respect for the stars and stripes. I'm not sure how accurate the movie about Larry Flint was, but it seems that the argument "naming a beloved toy after a beloved prophet is an insult" can be modified slightly to read "so using a beloved flag as an item of clothing is an insult" (even if that piece of clothing is something diaper-like).

    Perhaps most (if not all) people here disagree with that statement, but there were a number of people back then who obviously didn't agree with Larry flint's interpretation of freedom and free speech. So don't be so quick to judge the reaction of outrage as "radical" or "over the top". Only the punishment is.

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