Skip to comments.'We can't joke about the Prophet Mohammed' (I'd stay in Sudan if I could, says teddy teacher)
Posted on 12/01/2007 5:59:31 PM PST by DogByte6RER
'We can't joke about the Prophet Mohammed'
By Blake Evans-Pritchard in Khartoum
Last Updated: 12:04am GMT 02/12/2007
You could have cut the air in the classroom with a knife. The students in front of me had frozen, their mouths open. Then one of my favourite students - a lovely, charming girl with a great sense of humour - said in a low, warning voice: Teacher, we cant joke about the Prophet Mohammed.
I'd stay in Sudan if I could, says teddy teacher -
And at that moment I realised just how easy it would be to cross the boundaries of cultural acceptability in this sensitive country. We had been playing the simple parlour game, Consequences, in which a piece of paper is passed around the room, with everyone writing a different name, location or action in order to build up a simple story. The story would then be read out to the class.
Now there it was in black and white on the piece of paper in front of me, my get into jail card. The children had followed my instructions to the letter, but the consequence for me could have been disaster.
The Prophet Mohammed met Rebecca Nyandang at a cinema, it read. She said to him: 'Hello. He said to her: 'I want to buy a motorbike. And the consequence was: 'They never saw each other again.
The young man reading it out had got as far as Mohammed when the little girl stepped in and saved me. What was written on the rest of the sheet of paper remained my guilty secret.
Freshly arrived in Sudan, and pretty new to teaching, I couldnt hide my acute embarrassment. But just as Gillian Gibbons found out this week, it does not have to be your fault. It was not me who wrote Prophet Mohammed on the piece of paper, just as it was not Gillian who named the teddy bear Mohammed.
As an English teacher in Khartoum, you have to be so careful and it is difficult not to reflect on the fate of Gillian and to think: That could have been me.
As my experience demonstrated, even those of us who have taken the time and effort to make sure we are well versed in the sensitivities of the Islamic faith can be caught out. I had thrown clothes out of my suitcase to make space in my suitcase for my extensive library of books about Islam and lugged it all the way from London, but that would not have saved me.
Like Gillian, I had simply been naïve in assuming that we could transpose a western concept into an alien culture without causing offence to their religion.
And I was not alone. Colleagues I chatted to this week agreed that the whole affair has more to do with Sudan than it does with Islam. I have a lot of friends who are Muslim, and I did understand the Islamic culture before coming here, but I was not prepared for this, one woman teacher told me.
She thought many Sudanese just have no idea about the rest of the world. They tell you what to do, and they dont listen to the views of anyone else, she said.
For me, the past few days have really driven home that just having a general appreciation of Islam is not always enough to avoid causing offence.
Blake Evans Pritchard is a teacher in Khartoum.
Just another reminder why Islam is "The Religion of Peace."
Well, whatever. Fur Shur the Sudanese are making a joke out of Mohammad.
Well Islam and Mohammed never had a sense of humor to begin with.
A liberal friend and former teacher in Khartoum got out several years ago,citing the increasing hostility there.
From everything I heard, only a lunatic Western would stay there today.
The more angry protests, the more Mohammed is rendered to being a joke.
The difference is that she was encountering her friends in a country where the majority does not (yet) think it's OK to murder somebody for insulting Islam. Things turn very different when you walk into a Muslim-majority country. The story would have been the same in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc
Thats right a general appreciation is not enough.........You must submit.
Blake Evans-Pritchard? I wonder if this is a son or daughter of Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, currently the economics writer for the Daily Telegraph, who wrote that great expose of bill clinton?
I had to read a book for school about a Sudanese kid who lived in Sudan all his life but eventually escaped to America...he describes the violence and famine and disease. The Arabs rode on horseback killing the infidels with swords and guns...he mentions Darfur. He hated it and wanted to leave. Only an ignorant loony Westerner would want to STAY there.
I think islam and reality to be the oxymoron.
Is the author related to Ambrose Evans-Pritchard?
Actually, their own religion condemns these freaks.
According to Islam there is supposed to be only one God.
In effect, they have elevated a human being - Mohammad - to the level of a Deity, committing blasphemy in their own faith.
It’s long past due for people to begin naming their pet dogs and pigs Mohammed.
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