A few years ago, at a conference in the Middle East, I met a man called Mustapha (which is another name for the Prophet Muhammad). Interesting guy, Mustapha. Passionate about social justice issues, outspoken against Islamophobia, strident critic of Israeli occupation, a strong believer in equal rights.
But … someone needs to take Mustapha’s parents out into the street and lash them! You see, Mustapha’s family is Christian. And Mustapha himself is a Marxist and an atheist.
Following on the recent Sudanese decision about Gillian Gibbons, I have decided to start a campaign to evaluate the conduct of all Muhammads, Ahmads and Mustaphas (and any others who also have a name that was attached to the Prophet Muhammad). If any of them falls short in his general conduct (as well as those who happen to have decided to become atheists), his parents (or whichever relative gave him his name) should be taken into the street and flogged publicly.
This, really, is the ridiculousness of that Sudanese ruling.
Oh, and talking of that decision, what about the parents of the little boy whose name is Muhammad and who suggested naming the teddy bear “Muhammad”? Surely they deserve more than just a lashing for naming a son such as him with such a noble name! Lash them too!
By the way, we should organise a little vigilante force to find the parents of the president of Sudan (if they are still alive) and have them also lashed. How dare they give that insolent boy the name (Hassan) of the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad?! Actually, without giving it too much thought, I think the one Muslim I can quickly think of whose parents shouldn’t be lashed is the Pakistani general-ex-general-president. Now those were parents with foresight, naming their son Perverse (sorry Pervez).
If we consider the name-lashing thing to go beyond the Muslim community (as I suggested it should with Mustapha’s parents), then another set of parents I would regard as safe from the threat of lashing would be the mother and father of the Israeli prime minister. Omelette (sorry Olmert) is a really inspired name. Oops, scratch that. That won’t work; we are dealing only with first names here.