Teddy Teacher Spurs UK to Kill Own Blasphemy Law

House of Lords strikes down statute questioned since Sudan teddy-bear case
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 6, 2008 2:12 PM CST
Angry Sudanese protesters hold a newspaper carrying a photo of British teacher Gillian Gibbons, during a protest in Khartoum, Sudan, after Friday prayers, Friday Nov. 30, 2007, The protestors called for...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Britain's House of Lords voted yesterday to abolish blasphemy laws after an international incident sparked debate over secularism and tradition, the Los Angeles Times reports. With the UK and Sudan at odds in November over the prosecution of a British teacher allowing students to name a teddy bear Mohammad, many pointed out the hypocrisy of having a similar measure on common-law books.

Said one legislator of the 148-87 vote, “It is crystal-clear that the offenses of blasphemy … are unworkable in today’s society." Responded an opponent, “The essential question is: Should we abolish Christian beliefs?” Indeed, the 19th-century law only applies to attacks on Christianity. A man who compared Jesus Christ to a clown was the last convicted under the law, in 1922.