"All the news that fits"

This might seem a bit off-topic, but since I am currently teaching a course in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and since it is my blog, I'm going to allow it . . .

No doubt you've heard by now the story of British teacher Gillian Gibbons in Sudan who got into trouble for allowing her students to name a Teddy Bear that was the subject of a writing assignment Muhammad. According to the story as it's told here,

A 7-year-old student called Mohammad told Reuters this week he had suggested his own name be used for the bear.

In a writing exercise students were allowed to take the bear home and asked to keep a diary of what they did with the toy. These accounts were put together in a book entitled "My Name is Mohammad".

Never mind that, according to the story as it's told here, the boy "said he was not thinking of Islam’s Prophet when asked to suggest a name, adding most of the class agreed with his choice"; never mind that he also noted that "Gibbons had not discussed religion nor did she mention the Prophet"; it was too much of a coincidence for the protesters in Sudan who, according to the story as it's told here, were calling for her execution. Said local cleric Abdul-Jalil Nazeer al-Karouri, "a well-known hardliner",

This is an arrogant woman who came to our country, cashing her salary in dollars, teaching our children hatred of our Prophet Muhammad.

And she did this, evidently, by not discussing religion and failing to mention the Prophet (PBUH) in her classes in math, English, and spelling! The story goes on to say that

Hard-line clerics who hold considerable influence with Sudan's Islamic government, have sought to whip up public anger over the Gibbons' case, calling her actions part of a Western plot to damage Islam.

Frankly, in my opinion, there's no need for a Western plot to damage Islam; Muslims like these are doing a fine job of that on their own.

This is just one more example of a trend that my students have been discussing lately . . . you never seem to come across positive stories about Islam or Muslims in the news, only negative ones. Of course, part of the reason for that is the inherently negative bias of news media generally: good news is no news, after all. Which is why I was so pleased to see that Reuters, near the end of its report here, added this bit:

"When we heard we wanted to demonstrate immediately but some said we should wait and see what the concerned authorities find out," said Abdallah, a science student.

Shopkeeper Sabir Abdel Karim said that if Gibbons had not intended to insult Islam, an apology to Muslims would be enough to end the problem. "Any one can make a mistake and Muslims are forgivers. She will be forgiven and God will be the judge."

How many times has just this sort of sensible Muslim discourse gone
un(der)reported because it's so, well . . . sensible! . . . and for that very reason that much less newsworthy?

No comments: