Dec 3, 2007

British grit

Teddy bear teacher Gillian Gibbons, who was flown home last night following her pardon by the Sudanese government, is praised for her behavior during the long ordeal.
[UK Foreign Secretary David] Miliband spoke to Mrs Gibbons this afternoon, and afterwards payed tribute to the mother-of-two's "steadfastness and good cheer".

"She has shown very good British grit in very difficult circumstances but I know that the most important thing for her is to get home as soon as possible and return to her family," he said.

"She is in remarkably good spirits," he added.

Mrs Gibbons released a written statement thanking those who campaigned for release and insisting she had "great respect" for Islam.

"I have been in Sudan for only four months but I have enjoyed myself immensely," she said.

"I have encountered nothing but kindness and generosity from the Sudanese people.

"I have great respect for the Islamic religion and would not knowingly offend anyone. I am sorry if I caused any distress."
Maybe it's just me, but I prefer the good British grit of Sir Charles Napier, who helped abolish the practice of suttee in India.
"You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours."

ADDED: Read Anne Appelbaum on l'affaire teddy bear. A sample:
In fact, the Great Sudanese Teddy Bear Controversy, like its Dutch, Danish, and papal precedents, was not actually a religious or cultural affair. It was purely political. Nobody—not the other teachers, the parents, or the children—was offended by Mohammed the teddy bear (who received his name last September) until the matter was taken up by a totalitarian government, handed over to what appears to have been a carefully orchestrated mob, and briefly turned into yet another tool of domestic terror and international defiance. The Sudanese government, which, when not persecuting British teachers, pursues genocidal policies in Darfur, is under pressure to accept peacekeeping troops from the West. At least some of the Sudanese authorities thus have an interest in building anti-Western sentiments among the population and intimidating those who disagree.

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