15 days in jail and deportation for a 54-year old female British teacher in Sudan who allowed her pupils to name a class teddy bear Mohammed.
One Sudanese replied: "We responded much the same as you would if someone would have named it Jesus."
Granted, a teacher allowing her class to name a teddy bear Jesus might be tasteless and inappropriate, but no where in the civilized world would she be sentenced to prison and deported, barely escaping 40 lashes.
Wouldn't an apology have sufficed?
Cultural tolerance has limits - honor killings and female circumcision are not acceptable anywhere. Like slavery in the United States - long defended by Bible-believing Christians - we have learned that such a practice is ignorant and cruel and has no place in our world.
I don't pretend to understand Islam ... and I, as a Christian, support inter-religious dialogue. As a universalist Christian, I don't fuss about heaven and hell, which frees me to deal with the heavens and hells we create here, especially the hells-on-earth wherein millions spend their meager allotment of time.
I suppose the Islamic world often feels under attack from Western influences, both secular and religious, and there are portions of the Christian Church that believe all other religions to be false, and their adherents need to be converted.
The US invasion of Iraq and our saber-rattling over Iran doesn't help.
But this incident reveals some of the deepest perversions of the human spirit latent in religion. I hope that Islamic scholars and women and men of enlightened character will raise their voices and bring renewal to their great faith.
Change can't come fast enough!