Tolerance is a two way street

Saturday, December 1, 2007 at 0:09 | Posted in Freedom of speech | 6 Comments
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Gillian Gibbons, the British teacher, who allowed her primary school class to name a teddy bear after one of her pupils, has been sentenced to 15 days in jail. The pupil happens to bear the same name as somebody regarded as a holy man by islam: Muhammad. Unity High School in Khartoum is a christian sćhool.

The BBC quotes Ali Alhadithi, president of the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (Fosis) in UK as saying:

“What we have here is a case of cultural misunderstandings, and the delicacies of the matter demonstrate that it was not the intention of Gillian Gibbons to imply any offence against Islam or Muslims.

“We hope that the Sudanese authorities will take immediate action to secure a safe release for Gillian Gibbons.”

I agree that 15 days for exercising the freedom of speech is disproportionate. Unfortunately, though, angry mobs in Khartoum seem to be orchestrating lynch parties demanding Ms Gibbons to be executed. An anonymous demonstrator in Khartoum said to the BBC:

“We can’t accept it from anybody. Even if they can do that in Europe, they cannot do it here in Sudan. We ask our rulers and judges to review what they have said. Fifteen days is not enough.”

With all due respect, dear Anonymous, 15 days is far too much. You can not impose your own beliefs on somebody else, not even in Sudan.

Geirsan calls for leaders of the muslim community in Norway to explain their Sudanese brothers what the concept of tolerance is all about. I think this is a reasonable request, baring in mind the enormous tolerance that muslims enjoy in prominently christian Norway.

Tolerance is a two way street. If you take it for granted that muslims are entitled to their own religion in Europe (which I agree), the same must go for minorities in countries like Sudan. You can not just claim your own rights without giving in to others.



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  1. Thank you for our support, Larko. As you would expect, I agree entirely with everything you have written. It doesn’t happen often, but this case makes my blood boil.

  2. Geir, boiling your blood is unhealthy. That is why I go to sauna every Thursday evening and then have a beer or three. 🙂

  3. […] päivinä ollut uutisotsikoissa, koska brittiläinen Unity High Schoolin opettaja Gillian Gibson tuomittiin 15 päiväksi vankilaan siitä syystä, että salli oppilaidensa antaa nallekarhulle nimeksi […]

  4. […] Gibbons pardoned The Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has pardoned Gillian Gibbons who is serving a 15 day jail sentence in Sudan for allowing her primary school class name a teddy bear Muhammad. Ms Gibbons is to be […]

  5. […] Tolerance is a two way street […]

  6. A very good article

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