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British ‘Teddy Bear Teacher’ Gets 15 Days

From Fox News:

A sign with the name of a 54-year-old teacher, Gillian Gibbons, is seen on the door of her closed classroom at Unity High School in Khartoum November 26, 2007.

Teddy Bear Teacher Sentenced to 15 Days in Jail, Deportation

Thursday, November 29, 2007

KHARTOUM, Sudan — A defense lawyer says a British teacher has been found guilty of inciting religious hatred and was sentenced to 15 days in prison and deportation from Sudan for letting her students name a teddy bear Muhammad.

The crime was punishable by up to 40 lashes.

Gillian Gibbons walked in without handcuffs, wearing a dark jacket and blue skirt, according to reporters in the courtroom before media were ordered out of the chamber. Riot police surrounded the courthouse.

Muhammad is a common name among Muslim men, but giving the name of Islam’s founder to an animal would be seen as insulting by many Muslims.

In a statement read to the court, Gibbons explained the incident and emphasized that her 7-year-old students picked the teddy bear’s name, British Embassy spokesman Omar Daair told The Associated Press. Gibbons’ lawyer said she would likely take the stand later.

The case set up an escalating diplomatic dispute with Britain, Sudan’s former colonial ruler.

Prosecutor-General Salah Eddin Abu Zaid told the AP the British teacher could expect a “swift and fair trial.” If convicted, she faces up to 40 lashes, six months in jail and a fine, with the verdict and any sentence up to the judge’s discretion, official have said.

The judge ordered the prosecution to bring forward the person who originally raised the complaint against Gibbons — an office assistant at the Unity High School, said Isam Abu Hasabu, the head of the school’s parent-teacher association, who was in the courtroom.

Gibbons’ chief lawyer, Kamal Djizouri, scuffled with a tight police cordon before he was allowed in. British diplomats who were initially barred were also eventually allowed to enter.

Djizouri said he would argue her case based on Islamic Sharia law and show there was “absolutely no intention to insult religion, and for blasphemy to take place there must be an insult.”

Initial reports said a parent had complained about Gibbons, but Boulos said he was later told it was a staffer. He said parents of the students supported Gibbons…

Officials in Sudan’s Foreign Ministry have tried to play down the case, calling it an isolated incident and initially predicting Gibbons could be released without charge.

But hard-liners have considerable weight in the government of President Omar al-Bashir, which came to power in a 1989 military coup saying it wanted to create an Islamic state.

The country’s top Muslim clerics have pressed the government to ensure Gibbons is punished, comparing her action to author Salman Rushdie’s “blasphemies” against the Prophet Muhammad…

The north of Sudan bases its legal code on Islamic Sharia law, and al-Bashir often seeks to burnish his religious credentials.

Last year, he vowed to lead a jihad, or holy war, against U.N. peacekeepers if they deployed in the Darfur region of western Sudan. He relented this year to allow a U.N.-African Union force there, but this month said he would bar Scandinavian peacekeepers from participating because newspapers in their countries ran caricatures of Prophet Muhammad last year.

Allah is merciful. Especially since deportation from Sudan is an unalloyed blessing.

Despite the certain fact that since it became an Islamic state in 1989 the Sudan has surely been a paradise.

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, November 29th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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