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Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Culture rules

Following the nonsense with the teddy bear in Sudan, a Sudanese Official has said, according to the BBC that
Westerners going to live and work in Sudan should pass an exam on the local culture…

Khalid al Mubarak, media counsellor at London's Sudan embassy, said the orientation courses that were mandatory in the colonial era "worked very well".
Well, that's interesting. Let us, today at least, with respect to the teddy fiasco, put aside the knowledge that none of the parents complained of the way Ms Gibbons gave the teddy assignment to their children. (I happen to think that it was an imaginative project.) Let us also set aside the knowledge that the complaint to The Ministry of Education was made by a disgruntled employee of the school at which Ms Gibbons taught. And let us not dwell upon the consequential loss that Sudanese society will now inevitably suffer in its education of the young, for to do so would suggest that Mohammedanism is backward and that it, at the slightest opportunity, embraces archaic notions rather than attempting to engage with living in the modern world.

Instead, though, let us consider the modern world, exemplified by the United Kingdom, in its relationship with resident or 'home-grown' Mohammedans. Let us also wonder if the wise words of Khalid al Mubarak have any relevance to this relationship.

Perhaps we could 'advise' British Mohammedans that polygyny is a criminal offence and remind them that 'honour' killings are murder. We might also remind them that exhortation to suicide is also criminal as, too, is child abuse. I am thinking of female genital mutilation here, or even non-medical circumcision. Then there's the matter of wife-beating – criminal again. Of course, there are many other things that are 'local culture' here. I would suggest it's worth being aware that things like eating pork and drinking alcohol are part of our local culture. And perhaps I might point out that the strongest stricture against alcohol in the Koran amounts to 'Do not go drunk to your prayers'.

So, Khalid al Mubarak, perhaps you would be good enough to consult Mohammedan leaders and communities in this country and let them know what is expected of them – for some of them seem to be remarkably ignorant. Or, at least, they behave as though they are ignorant: I suspect that they do know and ignore our laws and customs in a calculated way. This is far worse than anything Ms Gibbons inadvertently did. I think an exam for these people might be appropriate for your co-religionists here, don't you? D'you fancy giving it a try?

God is grott, merdeiful.

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