I shouldn't be shocked that she was charged, arrested, and convicted of insulting a religion over a teddy bear's name :retard: but I am. Though the entire situation is ridiculous, I'm glad that Ms. Gibbons didn't get more time or lashes. I'm sure that she will be glad to get the hell out of there when her sentence ends.
British Teacher Found Guilty in Sudan
By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN
Published: November 30, 2007
NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov. 29 — The British teacher in Sudan who let her 7-year-old pupils name a class teddy bear Muhammad was found guilty on Thursday of insulting Islam and sentenced to 15 days in jail and deportation.
Under Sudanese law, the teacher, Gillian Gibbons, could have spent six months in jail and been lashed 40 times.
“She got a very light punishment,” said Rabie A. Atti, a government spokesman. “Actually, it’s not much of a punishment at all. It should be considered a warning that such acts should not be repeated.”
British officials, meanwhile, were furious. As soon as the news broke that Ms. Gibbons had been convicted, the Foreign Office in London, which had called the whole ordeal “an innocent mistake,” summoned the Sudanese ambassador — for the second time in two days.
“We are extremely disappointed,” said Omar Daair, spokesman for the British Embassy in Khartoum, the capital.
Ms. Gibbons, 54, has been in jail since Sunday, and Mr. Daair said her sentence would include time served, which means she will spend 10 more days behind bars before being sent to Britain.
The case started in September when Ms. Gibbons, who taught at one of Sudan’s most exclusive private schools, began a project on animals and asked her class to suggest a name for a teddy bear. The class voted resoundingly for Muhammad, one of the most common names in the Muslim world and the name of Islam’s holy prophet.
As part of the exercise, Ms. Gibbons told her students to take the bear home, photograph it and write a diary entry about it. The entries were collected in a book called “My Name Is Muhammad.” Most of her students were Muslim children from wealthy Sudanese families.
The government said that when some parents saw the book, they complained to the authorities. In Islam, insulting the Prophet Muhammad is a grave offense, and in northern Sudan, where Khartoum is, it is a crime. The government said it was insulting to name an animal or toy Muhammad.
On Thursday, Ms. Gibbons was whisked into a Khartoum courtroom under heavy security. She spent all day there, with the verdict announced after 9 p.m. It was not clear whether she would appeal.
Sudan’s relations with the West — especially Britain — are as strained as ever. Many developed countries are increasingly frustrated with what they consider stalling tactics by the Sudanese to delay the deployment of peacekeepers to Darfur, the troubled region of western Sudan.
Sudan, meanwhile, has accused the West of being anti-Islamic.
Beyond that, on Tuesday, Sir John Sawers, the British representative to the United Nations, criticized the Sudanese government on a number of issues, including the languishing international arrest warrants for a Sudanese official and a militia leader in Darfur.
The next day, the Sudanese government decided to press charges against Ms. Gibbons.
Despite the attempts by Islamic clerics to mobilize the masses against Ms. Gibbons, many Sudanese did not take to the streets.
Najla Hussein, who works at a mobile phone company in Khartoum, said she thought Ms. Gibbons should have been set free.
“Our government creates such problems to divert the eyes of the world community from our domestic problems,” Ms. Hussein said. “I am sure that the case of the British teacher is politically motivated and has got nothing to do with our prophet.”
Izzadine Abdul Rasoul Muhammad contributed reporting from Khartoum.