Friday, December 14, 2007

The Suicide of Reason

For most in Western societies, the behavior of Muslim fundamentalists is often incomprehensible and, at the same time, terrifying, as illustrated by incidents which make news headlines.

The most recent is that of Gillian Gibbons, a British teacher at a school for children of the Sudanese elite and foreign diplomats. Gibbons was charged by the Sudanese government with inciting religious hatred after honoring a 7-year-old student’s innocent request to eponymously name a classroom teddy bear “Mohammed.” Gibbons was found guilty under Sharia or Islamic law of blasphemy against the prophet Mohammed. She was jailed and informed that she could be punished by 40 lashes and six months in prison. After a “fair” sentence of 15 days was announced by the ruling clerics, frenzied rioters brandished swords and knives across Khartoum, screaming for her death.

In Saudi Arabia, a woman gang raped by seven men was sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in prison for being in a state of “khalwa” or in the presence of unrelated males. Under Sharia law, women can appear in public only with male relatives. The victim’s lawyer had his license to practice law confiscated after he deemed the rapists’ sentence lenient and the victim’s sentence unjust.

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