The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain calls on the British government to demand the immediate release of school teacher Gillian Gibbons. Her arrest, trial, conviction, and imprisonment in Khartoum, Sudan, for insulting Islam because she allowed her class to name a teddy bear ‘Muhammad’ reveals the inhumane nature of Shariah or Islamic Law and its incompatibility with civil rights and 21st century values.

The CEMB notes that Islamic organisations such as the Muslim Council of Britain find the events in Sudan ’embarrassing’ – as indeed all supporters of the Shariah should. But they do so on the grounds that no insult to Islam was intended by Ms Gibbons. This implies that had an insult been perpetrated, it would have been deemed a crime and punishable according to the Shariah, which could have resulted in 40 lashes or worse. Recent death threats against apostates or the case of the Danish cartoons of Muhammad two years ago are some examples of how any criticism is deemed offensive or insulting. Islamists will not hesitate to use Islamic law where possible or other violent means to stifle such criticism. In line with this, they have been aggressively campaigning for a law on incitement to religious hatred in the UK, which will severely curtail freedom of expression.

The CEMB strongly defends freedom of expression, which crucially implies the freedom of criticism of all beliefs and ideologies including religion. Wherever this precious principle is abandoned, the appalling vista of the imprisonment of an innocent teacher, and the baying for her blood by Islamists, becomes a frightening reality.