“I am just an ordinary middle-aged primary school teacher” is how the teddy-bear teacher, Gillian Gibbons, described herself.
In the age of compulsive self-actualization, and with women “doing their own thing,” far be it from me to question how ordinary Ms. Gibbons truly is. Photographs from her sojourn to Sudan show the 54-year-old riding a camel, lounging with a leopard, and getting down with the locals à la Angelina Jolie.
At least in one respect this Briton, who was arrested in Sudan for “allowing her seven-year-old pupils to name a teddy bear Mohamed,” is a garden-variety liberal gal. Remember Sidney Poitier in the role of Mr. Thackeray, the teacher who transformed the lives of his tough, East-End students, in “To Sir, With Love”? Ms. Gibbons seems to have trusted that, with a little TLC, she too could pull off an exotic version of that British classic.
But “To Sudan, With Love” bombed.
In the same humanitarian spirit, Ms. Gibbons assured her well-wishers that she “harbored no bitterness towards the country or its people,” 1000 of whom convened outside the Sudanese president’s official residence to call for her execution. Ms. Gibbons was also aghast at the thought of having offended the tender souls still clamoring for her head.
For her “crime,” she was released after only 15 days in jail. It helped that two British Muslim peers, Lord Ahmed and Lady Warsi, traveled to Khartoum to petition for her release. Under Sudan’s enlightened law, the Sharia scofflaw could have been imprisoned for much longer, publicly whipped, even murdered, if the mutinous multitudes got their way.
Equally “ordinary” were the responses from media across the pond. One intrepid writer complained that the British government didn’t do its nanny best to safeguard Citizen Gibbons. (Now that’s newsworthy: government fails its citizens.) Apparently, the adventurous Brit with the overbite ought to have been able to gamble with her life—for that’s what she did—knowing that the Labor government would gallop to the rescue.
All are scandalized that in a country dominated by Sharia law, an “infidel” would be targeted for trivia. Or, rather, for nothing at all. The indignation with which the incident has been greeted in the West is more telling than the event itself. It speaks to a hopeless, congenital stupidity about Islam.
We know what to expect from Islam’s advocates. Whenever a Muslim woman’s genitals are infibulated, when she is flogged for having been raped, killed for “honor,” or betrothed at age nine, Islam’s aficionados invariably claim these barbarisms are a manifestation of cultural peculiarities, or of the imposter, inauthentic Islam. The teddy-bear incident will be similarly rationalized.
Ms. Gibbons’ innocence about Islam reminds me of another group of half-witted women, this time American, who dominated the news some years back. Guided by hormones—and the liberal tenet according to which all people are fundamentally the same—the ladies married Saudi Arabian lads. These women were convinced they could transform their Wahhabi paramours into sensitive westerners, who share the housework and carry the newborn in a papoose.
Having entered such ill-fated relationships willingly, and had children with their Wahhabi men, the women were now ready for the next stage in the “adventure”: They followed their spouses to Saudi Arabia. What fun! There, much to their surprise, their mates turned them into inmates. The women and their daughters were now rightless prisoners. How’s that for an “unforeseen” development?!
Before relocating to Saudi Arabia, you’d have thought the ladies would’ve taken a trip first to their local library. Had they done their homework, they’d have discovered that Saudi Arabia is a medieval theocracy, where uttering a loud Hail Mary can get you into trouble with the religious police, the Mutawaa’in.
In one incident, the Saudi Mutawaa’in caused the death by fire of a number of schoolgirls. The devout deputies refused to let the girls escape because their heads were immodestly uncovered, the fire having incinerated their headgear. Suffice it to say, you’d have to be retarded—and certainly negligent—to voluntarily raise daughters in Saudi Arabia.
When reality dawned, the American women who wed Wahhabis turned to President Bush to rectify their marital mistakes and rescue the children they’d imperiled.
Ms. Gibbons is lucky; she escaped with her life. She now continues her mea culpa—bowing and scarping to the religion of peace’s raging religionists. The adventure may be over, but the learning has yet to begin.
©2007 By Ilana Mercer