Deportation: the only win-win solution

Thursday, 29 November 2007



Gillian Gibbons is getting more than her allotted 15 minutes of fame. She is a 54-year old British lady who went to Sudan to teach, I imagine out of a strong sense of doing the right thing and helping those less fortunate. Even if her job paid well, living in Khartoum is obviously no picnic.

In teaching a class of primary school children about animals, Mrs Gibbons had them name a teddy bear. She allowed them to nominate and then vote on the names – apparently introducing a democratic process rarely used in Sudan into the lesson. But that’s not what she got into trouble for.

The children, who were 6 and 7 years old, chose names that were familiar to them. The population of Sudan is 70% Sunni Muslim and the name the children chose in the end was Mohammed. At least one of the children was called Mohammed and certainly more had brothers or fathers or uncles called Mohammed. It seems perfectly reasonable they would choose that name for their bear.

But the authorities have arrested Mrs Gibbons and charged her with insulting religion, inciting hatred, and showing contempt for religious beliefs.

It is clear to anyone with even a modicum of common sense that Mrs Gibbons was doing none of those things. She was teaching a group of children to be creative and reinforcing to them that their ideas had value. So much for introducing progressive educational methodologies into schools in backwards countries.

Apparently under the three charges against her, Mrs Gibbons faces 6 months in prison, a fine, and 40 lashes with a whip. That’s right – a 54-year old school teacher faces being brutally whipped for letting children name a teddy bear. I am outraged.

If the Sudanese authorities feel the need to go ahead with this charade of injustice, I would suggest that they skip the trial and simply deport Mrs Gibbons. The unenlightened citizenry of Sudan should be satisfied with that, and I am sure that Mrs Gibbons would be happy to leave their shithole of a country behind her.


Max’s excuse

Friday, 13 July 2007


I am stupidly busy now.  Work is busy – today is another Friday that I am going to be working late while my friends are already in the pub.

Last weekend I had my Little Sister and Asshole and their two little kids here for four days.  I love them all dearly, but having two small children around me almost constantly has left me frazzled to a point where I barely recognise myself.  The kids just left on Tuesday, but it already seems ages ago (aside from the emotional damage and the sheets that are still waiting to be laundered).

The thing that is killing my blog and interfering with my social life right now is the extra job I have taken on.  I am teaching a course in law for business on a 4-week summer study abroad programme.  I had never taught law before so I knew this would be a challenge.  But it has turned out to be even more labour intensive than I had expected, and it is taking up all of my time.  I suppose that’s an exaggeration since I managed to throw together a dinner for myself and kd on Tuesday and I was out at a bourbon and cigar tasting dinner on Wednesday.  But still, I notice the difference.

My class is crazy.  I have 16 students and 15 of them are Kazakhs.  Thank goodness Borat is not quite an accurate depiction (although K, who has lived in Kazakhstan, swears he is).  The 16th is American.  As we went through English contract cases today, which I happen to find really interesting, I wasn’t sure if the kids were getting anything at all.  Their levels of English vary quite a bit.  Then I gave them an activity to do and they proved that they had taken in pretty much everything I had said.  That was gratifying.

The students read whatever I tell them to read, they all do their homework and turn it in on time, they ask questions and they seem to be taking their term project seriously.  We’ll see how it goes next week…