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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2769

British teddy bear teacher Gillian Gibbons pardoned

Khartoum, 04 December, (Asiantribune.com): British teacher jailed for insulting Islam after she allowed her students to name a teddy bear Muhammad flew home on Monday after Sudan's president pardoned her, a British embassy spokesman said.British teddy bear teacher Gillian GibbonsBritish teddy bear teacher Gillian Gibbons

Mrs Gibbons was jailed for 15 days by a court in Sudan.

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir pardoned her after a meeting with two British Muslim peers - Lord Ahmed and Baroness Sayeeda Warsi.

In a statement, Mrs Gibbons said "I am sorry if I caused any distress".

It comes after several thousand Muslims marched in Sudan's capital Khartoum on Sunday, calling for a tougher sentence.

According to news agencies, some of the protesters chanted: "Shame, shame on the UK", "No tolerance - execution" and "Kill her, kill her by firing squad".

The hard-line Khartoum protesters gathered in Martyrs Square, outside the presidential palace in the capital, many of them carrying knives and sticks.Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, right, shakes hands with Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, a Muslim representative from Britain's House of Lords, as Lord Nazir Ahmed, center, looks on before their meeting in Khartoum, Sudan, Monday, Dec. 3, 2007. Bashir agreed to pardon a British teacher jailed here after she allowed her students to name a teddy bear Muhammad. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, right, shakes hands with Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, a Muslim representative from Britain's House of Lords, as Lord Nazir Ahmed, center, looks on before their meeting in Khartoum, Sudan, Monday, Dec. 3, 2007. Bashir agreed to pardon a British teacher jailed here after she allowed her students to name a teddy bear Muhammad.

But Muslims elsewhere expressed horror and sadness at the treatment of Ms Gibbons, condemning also some sensationalist reporting in the tabloids.

The Federation of Student Islamic Societies (Fosis), which represents more than 90,000 Muslim students in Britain and Ireland, had said it was "deeply concerned" at what was a "gravely disproportionate" verdict.

The federation's president, Ali Alhadithi, said: "What we have here is a case of cultural misunderstandings, and the delicacies of the matter demonstrate that it was not the intention of Gillian Gibbons to imply any offence against Islam or Muslims. We hope that the Sudanese authorities will take immediate action to secure a safe release for Gillian Gibbons."

In September 2007, Ms Gibbons allowed her class of primary school pupils to name the teddy bear Muhammad as part of a study of animals and their habitats.

The court heard that she was arrested after another member of staff at Unity High School complained to the Ministry of Education.

- Asian Tribune

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