Teacher Convicted in Teddy Bear Case – Sentenced to Jail – Protestors Call for Death

Updates at Bottom:

Earlier this week, we told you about a teacher, from the U.K. teaching in Sudan, who is in trouble with the government there because her class named a teddy bear “Muhammad”. The ever “tolerant” Muslims quickly charged her with insulting Islam, a crime in Sudan punishable by up to six months in prison, a fine or flogging of up to 40 lashes.
She has now been convicted of this “crime”.
Do you folks understand at all just how radical Islam really is?

KHARTOUM, Sudan – A Sudanese court convicted a British teacher Thursday of insulting Islam for letting her students name a teddy bear Muhammad and sentenced her to 15 days in prison, avoiding a heavier punishment of 40 lashes. The teacher wept in court, insisting she never meant to offend.

The sentence and quick seven-hour trial were aimed at swiftly resolving the case, which had put Sudan’s government in an embarrassing position — facing the anger of Britain on one side and potential trouble from powerful Islamic hard-liners on the other.

The defense said the case was sparked by a school secretary with a grudge. But it escalated as Muslim clerics sought to drum up public outrage against what it called a Western plot to insult Islam’s Prophet Muhammad and demanding Gibbons be punished.

Officials were trying to tamp down public anger in the face of hard-line calls for protests after Muslim prayers Friday.

The government, which has often touted its Islamic credentials, encouraged past protests over cartoons seen as insulting the prophet published in European papers. But its moves now suggested it feared the case could hurt its reputation in the West.

The teacher, Gillian Gibbons, “was in tears” when she testified in court Thursday, a member of her defense team, Abdel-Khaliq Abdallah, told The Associated Press.

“She said that she never wanted to insult Islam” by allowing the children to name the stuffed toy Muhammad, a common name among Muslim men, the lawyer said, speaking outside the courtroom. Media were barred from the chamber.

Gibbons, 54, was found guilty of “insulting the faith of Muslims” and sentenced to 15 days in jail, followed by deportation, said Ali Mohammed Ajab, a human rights lawyer on the defense team. The charge is a lesser offense in the article of the criminal code under which she was tried, which includes several possible charges.

Prosecutors had pressed for conviction on a heavier charge under the same article — inciting religious hatred, which carries a punishment of up to 40 lashes, six months in prison and a fine.

A judge leaving the courtroom confirmed the verdict to reporters, but refused to give his name.

Britain said it was “extremely disappointed with the sentence.” London had been conducting delicate diplomatic efforts to ensure she received no punishment for what it said was a “misunderstanding.”

Original Link.

Update 1 at 11/30/07 7:25 AM CST:
Interesting comments. You should read them all. Real eye-openers.

The self-loathing Brits who think teddy bear teacher deserves her fate

Updated for sentence: Gillian was spared the lashes – those Sharia judges are just big softies at heart. But 15 days in prison, and I’m guessing that won’t be a room with cable. Bet she was glad of the deportation order though.

So it’s just the two weeks in the roach pit, then bundled out of the country pursued by a lynch mob to spend the rest of her life wondering if some whackjob is going to catch up with her and give her the Theo van Gogh treatment.

Radical Islam: What’s not to like?

Other than among Islamic hardliners, you would think that the plight of British teacher Gillian Gibbons, who faces jail and 40 lashes in Sudan for allowing her pupils to name a teddy bear Mohammed, would elicit near-universal sympathy.

Not so, judging by the comments of a sizable minority of commenters on the BBC’s website, who appear to think that Mrs Gibbons deserves everything she gets. This is just a selection of their views (brackets are mine):

Read the comments here.

Update 2 at 11/30/07 7:33 AM CST:
In typical form, the Muslims in Sudan have taken to streets, demanding that the teacher be executed. Ah, those peace loving, ever tolerant Muslims.

KHARTOUM, Sudan — Thousands of Sudanese, many armed with clubs and knives, protested Friday outside the presidential palace in Khartoum, demanding the execution of a British teacher convicted of insulting Islam for allowing her students to name a teddy bear Muhammad.

The protesters streamed out of mosques after Friday sermons, as pick-up trucks with loudspeakers blared messages against Gillian Gibbons, the teacher who was sentenced Thursday to 15 days in prison and deportation.

Click here for photos.

They massed in central Martyrs Square, outside the palace, where hundreds of riot police were deployed, though they did not attempt to disrupt the rally. “Shame, shame on the U.K.,” protesters chanted, and they called for Gibbons’ execution, saying, “No tolerance: Execution,” and “Kill her, kill her by firing squad.”

The women’s prison where Gibbons is being held is far from the site. Unity High School, which is closer by in central Khartoum, is under heavy security protection.

The protest arose despite vows by Sudanese security officials the day before, during Gibbons’ trial, that threatened demonstrations after Friday prayers would not take place. Some of the protesters carried green banners with the name of the Society for Support of the Prophet Muhammad, a previously unknown group.

Some of the protesters, who an Associated Press reporter at the scene said numbered as many as 10,000, carried clubs, knives and axes — but not automatic weapons, which some have carried at past government-condoned demonstrations, suggesting Friday’s rally was not organized by the government.

During Friday sermons, the Muslim cleric at Khartoum’s main Martyrs Mosque denounced Gibbons, saying she intentionally insulted Islam but he did not call for protests.

“Imprisoning this lady does not satisfy the thirst of Muslims in Sudan. But we welcome imprisonment and expulsion,” the cleric, Abdul-Jalil Nazeer al-Karouri, a well-known hard-liner, told worshippers.

“This is an arrogant woman who came to our country, cashing her salary in dollars, teaching our children hatred of our Prophet Muhammad,” he said.

Hard-line clerics who hold considerable influence with Sudan’s Islamic government, have sought to whip up public anger over the Gibbons’ case, calling her actions part of a Western plot to damage Islam.

The conviction of Gibbons was seen as an attempt by the government to appease hard-liners, while trying to avert British anger by giving a relatively light sentence. Gibbons could have received up to 40 lashes, six months in prison and a fine if convicted on the heavier charge of inciting religious hatred.

Original Link.

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