Picture this: People swarming out of their place of worship after prayers and taking to the streets in angry demonstrations, swinging weapons and shouting demands.

“Kill her, kill her, kill her by firing squad.”

Gillian Gibbons

“Those who insult the prophet of Islam should be punished with bullets.”

“Execute her!”

“No one lives who insults the prophet.”

“No tolerance: Execution!”

“Shame, shame on the UK.”

“Punishment, punishment, punishment!”

We’ve seen it before, and it’s happened again. It’s headline news, and it comes from the same source: Islam – the “religion of peace.”

For thinking people, it’s hard to equate “peace” with those post-prayer mobs of thousands, burning pictures, brandishing weapons and demanding beatings and death.

But there it is.

This time, the target of these fanatics is a unassuming, 54-year-old British teacher, Gillian Gibbons. She went to Sudan last August and began teaching at the private Unity School in Khartoum. She said it was a fulfillment of a dream.

That dream became her worst nightmare, all because of a stuffed animal – a teddy bear which was named Muhammad.

Apparently in September, she began teaching her class of 7-year-old children about animals. One of the children was asked to bring in a teddy bear, and Mrs. Gibbons asked the kids to name it. Since one of the most popular boys in the class is named Muhammad, the children chose that name for the bear.

Innocent enough, except this is Sudan, an Islamist country, under the rule of President Omar al-Bashir. He is militantly Islamist with strong anti-Western policies.

Apparently an office assistant in the school was offended at the bear’s name and told the Ministry of Education that the prophet had been insulted. That was all it took.

Public anger was stirred up by militant clerics, and the government moved in and officially charged Mrs. Gibbons with “insulting Islam.”

After an eight-hour trial behind closed doors, she was found guilty. She could have faced 40 lashes and six months in prison had the charge been inciting religious hatred. Gibbons has been taken to a secret location for her safety.

The street demonstrations, while not out of control, are nevertheless reflective of the street thinking of these Islamists, their fury fed by their own religious leaders in the mosques. Riot police kept things from getting out of control, but pictures of Gibbons were burned, and the death demands continued.

One dread-locked man, Yassin Mubarak, said, “It is a premeditated action, and this unbeliever thinks that she can fool us? What she did requires her life to be taken.”

The kernel of truth at the heart of Islam is there: If you are an “unbeliever,” then anything of which Islam disproves is punishable by death. They decide.

We’ve heard it before, “convert or die.” Or at the very least, do everything the way Islam demands – or die.

If we don’t see it that way, then what do we to make of vicious, threatening mobs reacting to an innocuous and innocent action of a British teacher and her 7-year-old students?

If we’re to walk the same paths we’ve been pushed into, particularly since the 9/11 attacks in the United States, we’re to consider mobs as just a “small part” of Islam.

Just as we were told after cartoons in Danish newspapers last year sparked violence across several continents, causing damage, injuries and death – those mobs represent just a “small part” of Islam.

Just as when a speech of Pope Benedict was deliberately taken out of context to reflect on Islam, leading to violent demonstrations and mobs demanding his death – we’re told to consider it just a “small part” of Islam.

Just as in the premeditated vicious street attack and killing of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh because Islamists didn’t like the subject matter of his films – we’re told to consider it just a “small part” of Islam.

Just as in the death threats issued against people because Islamists don’t like what they say or think – consider author Salman Rushdie, journalist Oriana Fallaci and Dutch politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali. There are many others.

Considering the pattern, it’s hard not to consider these threats and this violence just the normal, peaceful religion of Islam in action.

There’s a similarity in all these events – and so many more it would take pages to list them –and that is when there is a perceived slight to Islam; the reaction is mob violence, destruction and murder – always justified by Islam, the religion of peace.

It’s sad and ironic that these demands for death to the teacher because of naming a stuffed animal are occurring in a country that persistently conducts genocide against all blacks, Christians and other non-Muslims in the Darfur section of Sudan.

Estimates are that some 300,000 have been slaughtered, hundreds of thousands of girls and women raped and mutilated and nearly 3 million people left homeless after their villages are destroyed. Sudan has consistently refused U.N. peacekeepers, and the African contingent sent in to help, has accomplished virtually nothing.

Yet they riot against a name and a teddy bear.

Poor Gillian. In her naivet?, all she wanted was to live in another culture, learn about a religion, which she said “fascinated” her, and help educate children.

Too bad she wasn’t wise enough to learn the truth about what she was getting into and the reality of a Muslim country and Islam – the “religion of peace” – before she made the trip. What happened wasn’t part of her lesson plan.

I hope she survives safely, gets home – and stays there.

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