Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Teddy Muhammad Bear Teacher Says Sudanese Jail Not Bad

This from Reuters:

Jailed British teacher says Sudan treating her well

By Opheera McDoom

KHARTOUM - A British teacher detained in Sudan for insulting Islam after her students called a teddy bear Mohammad has said she is being treated well, British diplomats said on Wednesday.

Outside the jail where Gillian Gibbons, 54, is being held, many ordinary Sudanese said they were ready to forgive her if she apologised.

Leaflets were distributed in Khartoum calling for protests, but many people had still not heard of the case and others called for calm. Lawyers say Gibbons could face 40 lashes, a fine or six months in jail if convicted.

"When we heard we wanted to demonstrate immediately but some said we should wait and see what the concerned authorities find out," said Abdallah, a science student.

Shopkeeper Sabir Abdel Karim said that if Gibbons had not intended to insult Islam, an apology to Muslims would be enough to end the problem.

"If the teacher apologised to the Sudanese people and to all Muslims because she insulted the Prophet Mohammad then this is enough to end the matter," he said.

"Any one can make a mistake and Muslims are forgivers. She will be forgiven and God will be the judge."

"If there was a misunderstanding as to what happened this can be resolved peacefully," said Omar, a 30-year-old unemployed man.

Most Sudanese papers have not given much coverage to the affair, which began with Gibbons' arrest on Sunday evening.

Seven-year-old Mohammad, a student in her class, told Reuters that he had named the teddy bear after himself and most in the class agreed with his choice.

Many Sudanese had not heard the full story and thought she had made a model of an animal and named it Mohammad after Islam's Prophet.

Rumours of riots, violent protests and cars burning near the school were rife but the streets were calm and there was no sign of demonstrations.

Not all were ready to forgive and forget, however.

"She is a teacher and should be teaching her pupils to be respectful and have morals but instead she is doing the opposite," said Mohamed Toum, a law student.

And a leaflet was being handed out in Khartoum calling on Muslims to protest after Friday prayers.

On Wednesday, three British embassy officials and a teaching colleague from the Unity High School where Gibbons worked were allowed to visit her for more than 90 minutes.

"I can confirm that we have met Ms. Gibbons and she said she is being treated well," said British consul Russell Phillips. "We remain in close contact with the Sudanese authorities on this case," he said, declining to give further details.

A pale-faced Gibbons walking with her head down and a thin blue blanket wrapped around her shoulders was taken from her prison cell to the meeting room.

Sudan's Justice Minister, Mohamed Ali al-Mardi, said preliminary charges against her were insulting religion, and final charges would be levelled once the investigation was over.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

the worlds gone mad, and now the bear is on ebay !!