Thursday, November 29, 2007

Elephant? What Elephant?

You know that completely ridiculous (yet completely unsurprising) story of the teddy bear named Mohammed? The one that has been getting major international media coverage, including front page stories in the National Post and constant updates all over the blogosphere? Well, my hometown Montreal Gazette finally decided to mention it. On page A16, at the very bottom, in a tiny paragraph closing out a bunch of other small news briefs, like about the Krygyz prime minister and American obesity levels. Here, then, is the Gazette's coverage of the cuddly crisis in its entirety:

Teacher Charged with Islam insult
KHARTOUM - Gillian Gibbons, a British teacher detained in Sudan after her class called a teddy bear Mohammed, was charged with insulting Islam in a move that sparked a diplomatic row between London and Khartoum. Tuesday, a 7-year-old student named Mohammed tried to defend Gibbons, saying the bear had been named after him."

That's it. Not a word about the death threats, the demonstrations, the school shutting down, the interrogation, the threats of lashing, nothing. No elaboration of the boy's statement, which basically admits that had the teacher named the bear after the prophet, she would deserve punishment. Nope, nothing to see here, folks, just a small diplomatic kerfuffle, a silly news of the world brief.

Meanwhile, the very same issue of the Gazette gives a far more prominent place to an opinion piece by a local Muslim. My favorite line: "Finally, I cannot see why some Quebecers feel threatened by Muslims." A mystery indeed - certainly, that is, if you make the mistake of trusting the Gazette for your news.

Next Day Update: Okay, the Gazette has a brief and very reluctant editorial up about it today (no online link I can find), calling the events "disappointing" ("even after one allows for cultural differences") and saying that, though "no disrespect was intended," the teacher did not understand "how off-limits Islam is for foreigners." (btw, is foreigners some sort of euphemism for "non-homicidal maniacs"?) And no mention of this. Still, better than nothing, I suppose!

No comments: