Greater Surbiton

The perfect is the enemy of the good

The case for tougher blasphemy laws in Sudan

My colleague Philip Spencer, in a lecture yesterday at Kingston University, observed that in all the extensive coverage of Sudan’s ‘teddy-bear crisis’, nobody has made a connection between the treatment of the British schoolteacher Gillian Gibbons and the genocide in Darfur. A regime that carries out genocide against its own citizens is also likely to be one that persecutes individuals arbitrarily, for ‘crimes’ such as naming a teddy-bear ‘Muhammad’.

Philip, Brian Brivati and I are teaching a course on the ‘Politics of Mass Murder’ at Kingston University, and both Philip and Brian have been closely following events in Darfur. In the seminar following the lecture, one of my students remarked that the trial of a single British schoolteacher seems to have generated much greater media coverage than the killing of hundreds of thousands of people in the same country.

Since it appears to be illegal in Sudan to name a teddy-bear ‘Muhammad’, is it unreasonable to expect the Sudanese courts also to take action against all those guilty of murdering people called ‘Muhammad’, desecrating their bodies, raping their wives and daughters and kicking their families out of their homes ? They could start by indicting Omar Hasan al-Bashir, the President of Sudan, for killing more Muhammads than anyone else this century.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007 - Posted by | Darfur, Sudan

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