November 27th, 2007
11:17 PM ET

What's in a Name?

There are a lot of freedoms taken for granted in the U.S.  Sometimes, we don't even realize this until we see those same freedoms restricted somewhere else.  Take the second report in Wednesday's show for example:  A British schoolteacher working in Sudan was arrested because she allowed her students to name a teddy bear "Mohammed."

Sudan's government says some of the Muslim students' parents were offended, apparently because they felt this was an insult to their religion.  And because northern Sudan is under Islamic law, the teacher could be jailed or beaten for the incident.  (This week, she was charged with inciting religious hatred.)

Now we have the freedom in America to name the class pet, for example, whatever we want.  But imagine how it would be if your teacher – or you, for that matter – could be arrested, jailed or beaten for picking a name that someone else found offensive.

Filed under: News Coverage
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Mr. Browder

    My 1A class weighs in on the issue:

    TY: Shouldn't have gone to jail. Wasn't she in a Christian-run school.
    Greg: The kids picked the name. Did they get in trouble?
    Paul: The parents were way too sensitive
    Alex: It's just a teddy bear.

    Next time!!!

    November 28, 2007 at 11:00 am |
  2. Cedrick

    I think that is just messed up because she probably did not know about the prophet. Also, it is just a teddy bear; what harm is that?!?!?!

    November 28, 2007 at 2:50 pm |
  3. josenrique

    the best present ever is money.

    November 28, 2007 at 2:53 pm |
  4. Dodge

    I personally agree with the BMC (British Muslim Council). The teacher obviously meant absolutley no harm by the bear's name. Here's to hoping that the teacher is released.

    November 28, 2007 at 8:40 pm |
  5. Dustin

    Freedoms are often overlooked in the U.S., that is, untill they are taken away. Then they are brought to attention. While some may say the teachers ignorance in naming the teddy bear Mohammed is inciting religious hatred, I think more should be taken into account. For one the item named, a teddy bear is hardly a incriminating or evil symbol. Also, I'm sure if given a chance and now knowing the significance of the name she would ask the students to pick another name.

    November 28, 2007 at 11:52 pm |
  6. Mr. Watts

    Comments from my social studies class:

    Vanessa: I wonder why a teacher and the students named a teddy bear Muhammed. There was a rule that they were not supposed to do that and I don't think they should.

    Amanda: I think that the teacher shouldn't get in trouble because she didn't know about the rule.

    Jamar: Why did the teacher have to go to jail? I also think that some of the kids should get in trouble too. I think that the teacher should not get punished and she should be able to leave Sudan and not be able to come back.

    Jeila: I think that she shouldn't have gotten in trouble because it is just a name. And it happened to be a teddy bear who got that name.

    Tyler: Is the United States government doing anything about it? Also it wasn't her fault, it is the kids fault because she asked them to name the teddy bear.

    Lilia: I don't understand why they would make such a big fuss over a teddy bear. Also the kids should get punished too. You see they weren't making fun of Muhammed, the kids were just thinking of a name that came out of there mind.

    Lena: Well I think it is not fair that the teacher has to go to jail just for naming a teddy bear. I mean it's just a teddy bear.

    Courtney: Dear CNN, I think that this is all crazy over a teddy bear. How do you know if the teacher did not know about the use of the name? Also the students should know how to use that name if it was so important.

    Tyler: They are acting like little kids because its just a teddy bear and it is just a name.

    Tyler: Why did the teacher get put in jail? The kids named it not her.

    Aubrie: I wonder why the teacher is getting punished for the students naming a bear. I think it should matter at all because it is just a bear. I feel sorry for the teacher because it really wasn't her fault.

    November 29, 2007 at 3:44 pm |
  7. Joseph from Mr.Mayer's class

    That wasn't fair for the teacher. Wasn't that a Christian-school? Why should she get in trouble? People name their children Mohammed all the time and no one says anything about that, but when it's a cute Teddy bear people think it an insult. They should let her go!


    November 29, 2007 at 6:35 pm |
  8. Meagan

    It was JUST a teddy bear! That Isn't fair! The kids should have gotten in trouble if the teacher got in trouble!

    November 29, 2007 at 9:32 pm |
  9. Daniel

    I think that they should let slack for the teacher first of all because her students named the teddy bear and she didn't. Another reason is because she is foreign to Sudan and did not know that it was a law to not name a teddy bear.
    It is all messed up.

    November 29, 2007 at 9:50 pm |
  10. B.

    I think Sudan is the most corrupt and troubled nation on Earth. Millions there die from aids or are killed in the genocidal war that is raging there. I think that Britain or even the U.S. should send in troops to keep the peace.

    November 30, 2007 at 9:15 am |
  11. Callie

    I think that the teacher should not have been arrested at all. The kids are the ones who picked the name. There are people who are named Mohammad, why isn’t anyone offended by that? She could have had to go and apologize to all the parents and people who were offended, but being arrested and maybe lashed is a little over the top…I hope she gets released soon and gets home safely.

    November 30, 2007 at 9:19 am |
  12. B.

    I think Britain or the U.S. Should send troops into Sudan to help the people. Many people there are killed in genocidal wars and others die from aid's. And now arresting a teacher?! They nned some help over there!

    November 30, 2007 at 9:21 am |
  13. Tim

    I think that it is crazy that the teacher was supposed to get such a severe punishment. I don’t think it was insulting the religion, and even if it was, the teacher should not have been punished. It was the kids who chose the teddy bear’s name. 40 lashes seems like a pretty harsh punishment for naming a teddy bear. In a way, it could even be a compliment, because if a child is named after his father, it is because his father is and admirable person, so naming a teddy bear after Mohammed should mean that Mohammed is respected.

    November 30, 2007 at 10:19 am |
  14. Matt

    A teacher just recently a volunteer teacher from Britain was arrested. Why she was arrested was the thing. She was arrested for naming a naming her class teddy bear Mohammad. She didn’t even name the teddy bear, her 7 year old class did. Her class all voted on a name for the teddy bear and got her in trouble. I think that it is stupid that she would get in trouble because she didn’t even name the teddy bear, her class did. Also I think it is crazy that they would even think that they would have to give her 40 lashes or even time in prison for a TEDDY BEAR!!! Its just a teddy bear.

    November 30, 2007 at 10:21 am |
  15. Malia

    I think it is completely unfair that the teacher in Sudan was arrested just because she named a teddy bear after a prophet. Especially because it was her class who decided to name the teddy bear Mohammad. Fifteen days in prison is fifteen too many if it wasn’t even her fault. She could have received forty lashes just for name a teddy bear the name the class voted on.
    You also said on CNN Student News that Mohammad is a common name as well, so why don’t they punish the parents who named their child after a prophet? Should it be any different with a teddy bear, especially when the children choose the name? I think not! It’s not like she meant any harm!

    November 30, 2007 at 10:22 am |
  16. anthony

    It was a teddy bear why should a teacher get in trouble for leting the class name the bear that name .it is just wrong for somebody to go to jail for that. if it was me all of the kids would get a call home.

    December 3, 2007 at 3:09 pm |
  17. HUNTER

    CARLLL U DA MAN.... i really enjoy your stories... u are amazingg

    December 4, 2007 at 2:24 pm |
  18. sophie from Ms. Farrells journalism class

    This is absoloutly ridiculous. She had no idea, and it is entirley the childrens fault. I think the chirldren should be given a long lecture on how this is not a practical joke and it is not a laughing matter. I can see why she was punished but Sudan has very strict rules about their religion. I think this is all blown out of proportion.I mean, whats done is whats done, but its not fair.
    xoxo, sophie

    PS. plus, shes from another country, nuh uh, not fair!

    December 4, 2007 at 2:46 pm |
  19. Adam

    I think she has a right to name a teddy bear

    December 4, 2007 at 3:20 pm |
  20. victoria@baker6grade

    I would probably love a present.

    December 4, 2007 at 3:22 pm |