While trawling the blogosphere I cannot help noticing the amount of bloggers, particularly those aligned to the Conservative movement, who, while commenting on the case of Gillian Gibbons and the teddy bear formerly known as Mohamed, harp on about how we are so much more civilised than Sudan and how disgraceful it was for the country to treat a foreigner in that way.
Let me make it clear that I think the Sudan authorities attitude to this incident was disgraceful, and I tend to agree that the arrest was politically motivated, possibly due to Gordon Brown's criticism of the Sudan regimes inaction in Darfur. Before we start feeling self-righteous about this however, let us consider a few instances of British "justice" in regards to foreigners in our own country.
1) An innocent Brazilian is shot dead during a time of heightened political tension. At the trial of the Metropolitan Police under Health & Safety Law, the lawyer defending the Met sums up by implying he was an illegal immigrant drug addict, despite the fact that this had nothing to do with the shooting. To this day, despite the fact that shoot-to-kill was never authorised by the Metropolitan Police, the officers involved have not faced any charges. They have got away with an extra-judicial killing. Also known as murder.
2) 17 foreigners arrested since 2001 kept behind bars for around three years without trial because the government "suspected" and in some cases still suspects that they are involved in terrorism. These men were so dangerous that they were free to leave jail as long as they left Britain at the same time. Since being released in 2005, some are still under house arrest despite never having been tried.
3) Remember the plot to bomb Old Trafford? Basically a foreigner (Muslim) who had some Man United Tickets. Although I can see the value in detaining Manchester United fans for crimes against sport, we should not be doing it just because they are foreign. Also mentioned in the same article is the arrest of foreigners involved in the Ricin plot that did not involve any Ricin.
I do not want to even start on the disgraceful treatment of technically British citizens (although they are non-white and were born in a foreign country so perhaps it does not really count) over the issue of the theft of Diego Garcia.
15 days for naming a teddy bear Mohammed? Sudan has got a lot to learn before they reach British standards of injustice.