In bygone ages wars have been started over less. The fact that Sudan has escalated this incident is of great regret. I heard a Sudanese diplomat on 5 Live yesterday saying we have to let the Sudanese legal process take its course and that the Sudanese government has no power to intervene. Stuff and nonsense. The fact that Mrs Gibbons was charged in the first place looks to me like a political act in itself. The charges took place after the Sudanese legal authorities had briefed that she was about to be freed. What changed? I suspect it was a political intervention to put pressure on the British government to back off over Darfur.
David Milband has called in the Sudanese Ambassador (two days too late) and far from giving him the diplomatic equivalent of cauliflower ear, he is merely seeking to establish the facts. Er, I think we know the facts. A British subject has been arrested on trumped up charges which not even devout muslims think should stick. She was in the country doing good - not to insult anyone. If this court finds her guilty and doles out the barbaric punishment of 40 lashes it is something which ought to have severe political consequences for Sudan.
How much aid and assistance does the UK give Sudan?
If this court finds her guilty and doles out the barbaric punishment of 40 lashes it is something which ought to have severe political consequences for Sudan.
Um...agreed but like what? Economic sanctions hurt the wrong people, and give the nutter hardliners a nice way to whip up anti-western solidarity. The Sudan is nowhere near enough of a player on the world political stage for threats of leaving them out in the cold to do anything, they're already there, freezing their nuts off.
I'm not disagreeing that we should be doing something but I'm honestly confused as to what that something might be. Of course, in the old days, we'd have a sent a gunboat up the Red Sea to sit there looking nasty, but apparently only America is allowed to do that now.
Talking crap again Dale.
What happened when British subjects were sat in Gitmo (belong to our number 1 ally) on trumped up charges? British government more or less sat on its hands...
The last time we got military with the Sudan - the Mahdi war of 1898 - it ended up with British etc casualties of 700 odd, and 30,000 Sudanese.....
You are wrong Iain.
The Sudanese Embassy have essentially apologised for this & are clearly very embarassed by such local nonsense.
All cultures have their sore points - how many British teachers have had their careers destroyed by obviously false abuse charges or satanic abuse stories (even when found not guilty). In fact this story, since it involves a British woman & nasty foreigners has also flicked our media's sore points. Compare & contrast this with the treatment of the Natwest 3- a matter of much greater constitutional importance.
I would like to see Microband summon the Sudanese Ambassador who would "accidently" arrive just as a delegation from the rebel regions in Dafur were emerging from a meeting with the PM concerning what military and civilian aid would benefit the region most.
Perhaps, this is a mission for a squad of the SAS to go in and rescue her?
OK, Let's hear from you, British Muslims. We want to know if you condemn these proceedings. Loud and Clear.
Their Country , their law.
She's supposed to be an English teacher FFS. Why didn't she call it Paddington or Pooh?
A snatch squad followed by the cessation of diplomatic realtions, the revocation of banking licences for any Sudanese state bank, and a couple of cruise missles might get their attention. For too long the UK has been tolerant with this kind of thing. As a columnist in the Telegraph observed yesterday tolerance is a two way street. It's time we showd a bit of intolerance. This may be a secular society but it's still a Christian (and Protestant) state. enough is enough.
"How much aid and assistance does the UK give Sudan?"
According to John Trenchard it's £113.32m.
She obviously did NOT heed the FCO advice or say she was NOT warned.
"Local laws reflect the fact that Northern Sudan and the capital Khartoum are predominantly Muslim. You should respect local customs and sensitivities at all times"
Bollocks. It was a desperate attempt to divert world attention fromn the Sudanese again blocking any attempts to prevent its Muslim on Non muslim genocide in Darfur. Sudan used to be a tolerant, pleasant country when I would go there, then the Muslims got control. That's the whole story. Now they have joined the rest of the Muslim world in showing hatred for the west, and using any tools they have to show hatred. We really should stop pretending any law or justice systems exist in these countries, they are simply tools of the extremists.
Cut all aid from the savages. I'm sick of mealy-mouthed British politicians and officials kow-towing to wilfully backward regimes. There's enough money in the gulf states to provide suitably Muslim aid to replace that of us evil Kufirs.
Is it me or are far too many modern-day 'Muslims' knuckle-dragging, savage barbarians and theological fascists?
Neil, the Ambassador didn't look very apologetic on Newsnight last night.
I've NO sympathy for Gibbons. That's what you get trying to be a do-gooder in an primative, alien culture/civilisation. Justice in a country where Alan Clark's colorful metaphor of Africa is probably understated. I'm sick and tired of bloody Africa. I think we (the West) should stop trying to impose 'western democracy' in areas where they have no idea about such things and where civilisation is the newest mud-hut feature. Next on the news it will be some western twat in Thailand ripping up a Thai financial note in view of the police!
Agree with Neil Craig that 'the NatWest 3' is a far more important story politically but obviously much easier to run with a story about a poor ickle primary teacher being mistreated by evil Islamists, rather than the rights of three wealthy bankers...
Remember Ian that this is a country being torn apart by Darfur. This is small beer domestically, and is all about power struggles between the religious clerics and the government over who has the upper hand. The teacher is simply a sad case of 'wrong place, wrong time', and I don't think that our diplomatic representations will make a big difference to the outcome.
Dynamite, within the limits of it not being right for ANY ambassador of any country to agree with Paxman that his homeland is a dump, I thought he was relatively apologetic.
I doubt if throwing about threats of sending in the SAS & cruise missiles will go down any better in the Sudas than arabic threats to do the same in London would (perhaps worse since the US did use cruise missiles against a Sudanese fertiliser factory some years ago).
Under what circumstances would you allow a Sudanese national to break the law, unpunished, in the UK, Iain?
Whether the law is a ass is a separate argument to whether the law has been broken and whether justice (such as it is) should take its course.
>OK, Let's hear from you, British Muslims. We want to know if you condemn these proceedings. Loud and Clear.
Er ... they have been all over the news condemning the Sudanese govt.
HNG encourages immigration by people who share these barbaric beliefs, coming soon to a city near you.
jilted john: The gunboat would probably surrender, remember the Iran incident?
ignorance of the law: English teacher, yes. I believe her kids named the bear.
We can no longer send in the gunboats, but we could threaten to halt all financial aid, forthwith. And what a storm of indignation that would raise from the left!
I don't know why we subsidise these bastards anyway. Let them pay for their own wars.
"Is it me or are far too many modern-day 'Muslims' knuckle-dragging, savage barbarians and theological fascists?"
Looks like the Nasty Party is well and truly back again.
Why should British Muslims be forced to condemn everything that is done by other so-called adherants of their religion elsewhere in the world? Should all British homosexuals, for example, be challenged to condemn padeophilia? I didn't hear Iain condemn the actions of that gay Canadian who was caught in Thailand after photographing himself abusing small boys, so why do we insist on seeing British Muslims "condemn" things that have nothing to do with them?
This is a Godsend for Gordon, rather distracts from his current funding fiasco.
Wouldn't be surprised if they let this one drag on a few days more.
Neil Craig and the other apologists - you are talking about a country that is committing systematic genocide on their own people and you worry about a teddy bear called Mohammed giving offence?!!!
Iain is correct - this is much more political than it looks. The Labour Party may have inadvertently contributed to this.
The Sudanese Embassy was annoyed with Labour over an item at the Party Conference, and has complained about the relationship with the Home Office. Don't know if they are rightly annoyed, or just annoyed.
They also were furious over the attempted abduction of children from Darfur (and Chad nextdoor), claiming it was high-handed colonialism. Some truth in that.
The aid workers claimed to be working in the childrens' best interest, but that is not really a good excuse for trying to covertly remove the citizens of another country from their families.
Sudan reacted strongly, seeing it all as a generalized western plot, but then so would I.
You wrote: "Under what circumstances would you allow a Sudanese national to break the law, unpunished, in the UK, Iain?"
At the moment, it's not clear whether the law HAS been broken.
There's a big difference between "the law has been broken" and "the Government have decided that..."
Even the police in Western Democracies sometimes arrest people who later turn out to be innocent.
Whether the police in the UK have more or less political pressure put on them in individual cases than the Sudanese police is, actually, an interesting question!
Milliband should do the decent thing - offer to have 80 lashes in her place.
Why risk the lives of our soldiers by sending in the SAS? To paraphrase Bismarck, Mohammed (pbuh) the teddy is not worth the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier. I've a much better idea, along the same lines, which also involves an air drop.
Our pig farmers are still dealing with the aftermath of the foot and mouth outbreak the government caused. So let's solve three problems in one go.
1/ Buy all the diseased pigs
2/ Load them in a Hercules
3/ Drop their carcasses on Sudan.
The pig farmers are compensated, the locals get the message about what we think of their stupid cesspit of a country, other of the locals will get a tasty snack for nothing and it will really annoy "Sir" Iqqy Sacranie and the MCB fellow travellers.
That's four problems actually. It's a win win win win.
The 12:02 p.m. comment in my name is not from me. It obviously comes from a man because only a man would think of Agent Orange. I don't even know what Agent Orange is supposed to do. Too bad you're too weak and needy to get a personna of your own.
The Sudanese are of course wrong..and the Government should be very firm..but Mrs G has been very foolish.
I do think there is a problem of expats going abroad now (whether Africa or Spain), and not briefing themselves on local culture or learning the language.
In 1958 my father went to teach and my mother to nurse in British Colonial Kenya. The Colonial Office expected them to learn Swahili and they were examined both in written tests and verbally. They were expected to learn and understand local cultures - not just that of indigenous black Bantu people, but because of Arab & Indian immigration an understanding of Islam, Hindu, Sikh, Zoroastrian etc religions was required. The British empire was certainly racist, but ironically many of it's servants had a greater knowledge and appreciation of the local cultures than the fluffy PC liberal do-gooder types that go to these countries now.
Incidently we are going down the same path as Sudan with the hate crime legislation. Hypothetically -say in a few years time - what would happen if a Sudanese national in this country was to get her class to name a teddy "Nancy Boy". An action made in ignorance of the UK culture and law and she coming from a culture where homosexuality was frowned upon and persecuted? Would she be prosecuted for showing hatred to Gays?
As sad as Mrs. Gibbons' tale is, alas this is what happens when you visit places like Sudan. Which is why not many people are going there in the first place. We can't send out a gunboat to rescue every aged hippy when their aid tourism trip into goes awry, some personal responsibility has to be borne here. She went into one of the most savage nations on this planet -- what did she expect would happen?
Moral of the story: you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas...
Matt Awight - you're talking ignorant, islamically-speaking codswallop. The "British subjects" you refer to do not regard themselves as such.
You people have to understand: islam does not recognise the state. Got that? They are muslim. Story, end of. They do not not recognise the power of the state or the authority of the state because there is only one authority in the universe and that is Mr Touchy up in the sky. In fact, they were in the service of Mr Touchy. Think of it this way: if they were Christian soldiers, you would be full of sneering contempt. So do be quiet and finish your crayoning.
I (almost) agree with Simon, above. These naive people shouldn't be going into incendiary areas in Africa. She should have known - anything to do with the the name Mohammad, don't touch it. And like Simon, I'm sick to death of bloody Africa. If they're comfortable in the Stone Age, why try to heave them out of it?
That said, that stupid woman is one of us and we should get her out and take away her passport. Also, close our embassy. I believe we can live without the Sudan.
[The destructive troll known as 4:07 and posing as me] - This is a political blog, not the monkey bars in the playground.
Troll Alert: White trash spotted infesting Iain's property again at 3:28 pm. 4:11 pm.
You know, Bubba, Iain puts his time and considerable talent into providing us with interesting threads and ideas to discuss. Not to provide destructive mental midgets with a troll playground.
Winchester whisperer said:
"Milliband should do the decent thing - offer to have 80 lashes in her place."
Milliband would probably enjoy that way too much, plus i'm sure that he's become accustomed to 80 lashes from Gordon every time they have a cabinet meeting in his dungeon.
I think that there was a degree of naivety by the teacher, but that doesn't excuse the decision to charge itself.
However, it makes sense to tread carefully. We are not dealing with a rational democracy, after all.
jbhrlVerity - I love you!!! Not in 'that' way of course!
Run along, troll, you aren't fooling anyone.
The MCB Inayat Banglawala did bleat at the Sudanese rep on Newsnight (while Paxo sat back with eyebrows at def-con 3).
However, MCB's IB just used the occasion to slip in his own agenda, that if, say, a pig had been called Mohammed, then that would be different. Er, no, at least not in the UK it damn well shouldn't. Mr Banglawala should have condemned the medaeval thinking squarely with no excuses or cop-outs but he did not. The MCB continues to maintain that outrage and reaction is justified when it suits them.
Not good enough - and we fund that rancid organisation.
I hate the pussy footing whith which the UK govt is dealing with Sudan on this issue. However if this is what will extricate the poor woman from jail then let's do whatever diplomatic dance is required, secure her release, and then we can think about getting even.
Time to register your name on Google?
It would save a lot of trouble with trolls.
Muslim parents frequently call their male children Muhammad, which is why the children voted to give their bear this name.
Anybody who relies upon a cultural relativism defence to justify this prosecution is mentally retarded.
Verity you are irreplaceable
A good cure for this would have been not to go to Sudan in the first place .I find not getting drunk does for hangovers in a similiar way.
I `m just suggesting that if you go to primtive barbaric lands you run the risk of getting put in a pot and getting eaten .While we should of course be throwing brick Teddy bears through the windows of Sudanese Restaurants Mrs Gibbons would have been better off not being such a show off and getting on life in Britain.
Still Civis Britannicus Sum ( unless you are a Muslim traitor in Gitmo who was "on holiday"). Send a gun boat
Oh for goodness sake, send in the gunboats!
"As the Roman, in days of old, held himself free from indignity, when he could say Civis Romanus sum; so also a British subject, in whatever land he may be, shall feel confident that the watchful eye and the strong arm of England, will protect him against injustice and wrong."
Lord Palmerston would not be pleased with this government at all...
Thanks for the support.
Newmania - I agree. She should not have gone to such a primitive Dark Ages country in the first place. And, once there, she should have known to stay well away from any mention of the big Mo' (Fleas Be upon Him).
I think we should let Africa sink or swim. I'm sick to death of them.
However, this woman is one of our own and we have to rescue her one way or the other. And the Muslim Council or whatever it's called needs to be nailed permanently shut, preferably with Bari and the preciously elegant Banglawangla inside. (Is he still posting from the Reuters desk in Sweden by the way? Does anyone know?)
Another idea might be for all those sentimental twits who leave floral arrangements and teddy bears at places of accidents and other mishaps, to leave bears in the front of town crosses and monuments, all bearing the name Mohammad. Thousands of them. Possibly tens of thousands. On TV news bulletins all the time.
And a gunboat, please.
Troll at 5:04 - Bubba, I have a personal question for you. Did your mother ever have any children who lived?
wee Doug has it covered.....just pay £113.32m
She's been sentenced to 15 days in pokey then deportation, so says Yahoo News.
Miliband doesn't look too clever tonight. i think he took his eye off the ball, too much time concentrating on Annapolis.
Yak 40 - Well, it's better than flogging, and she shouldn't have been there in the first place, and she should have known to give Big Mo' and Mr Touchy in the sky a wide berth.
As soon as she's back on British soil, we should withdraw all aid to Sudan. Let them sink or swim. Who cares. Besides, why can't Mr Touchy in the sky help them out if he's such a big deal?
Why are they so dependent on the West when the big guy is on their side? I must say, he does seem to back losers.
'I am spartacus'
I have called my dog mohammed, my cat mohammed and my car mohammed, I am going to call my christmas tree mohammed as well!
You clearly have never lived abroad!If you are British and are living in another country don't expect any help from your embassy.
As an American friend once said to me about embassy help-"Your British?Then God help you!"
This case should never have come before a court and Mrs Gibbons should be released immediately.
BTW Richard, it is a beautify sunny day where I am and a cool
The rule of law, whatever the jurisdiction, requires common sense to be applied in its application. Thus under English law certain acts may be unlawful but for a variety of reasons no prosecution takes place. Those that apply the law, be they policemen, magistrates or other officials are expected to use common sense and discretion. So I might unwittingly commit a crime the effects of which are negligible on society and the policeman may well let me off with a warning. Indeed the successful operation of any Legal System REQUIRES that discretion is shown. This is not a recipe for anyone to break the law – just a pragmatic and humane approach to its application.
The laws of natural justice itemised above apply universally. So in Sudan those pursuing the “crime” against this woman should reflect that (a) She was uninformed (b) She is now contrite (c) The application of this law in this instance can only do damage to the world’s perception of the country (d) The Koran says: He who forgiveth, and is reconciled unto his enemy, shall receive his reward from God
15 days with 5 already served. When she gets back she will get offered silly money by the papers.
The real losers are the children & the more professional teachers at her school. The Islamic political correctness industry may be even more destructive than our own.
Anon 2:28 - It is people exactly like you and Harriet Harman that have helped to allow 'Islamic' terrorism and tryanny to spread across the world unhindered. You both both fascists fraudulently posing as defenders of the weak and defenceless. If telling the truth is nasty, then I don't want to be a 'nice' liar like you.
You and your ilk are the BNP's biggest electoral asset.
This incident has little to do with teddy bears or Mohammed and everything to do with throwing up a smokescreen to help Sudan continue to resist UN and Western efforts to halt the rape, slaughter and ethnic cleansing in Darfur.
Now, Jean-Marie Guehenno, the United Nations peacekeeping chief, has said that the obstacles raised by Sudan are putting in doubt the planned deployment of a peacekeeping force for Darfur.
Is the UN any use whatsoever?
(more at blogolob)
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