â€œShe allowed students to name teddy bear Mohammadâ€ British teacher in Sudan faces blasphemy
27 Nov 2007
KHARTOUM: November 27, 2007. (AFP) A British teacher in Sudan yesterday faced lashes and deportation as she languished in police custody, accused of insulting the Muslim prophet for allowing young children to name a teddy bear Muhammad.
Sudanese police arrested Gillian Gibbons in Khartoum on Sunday after parents complained that she allowed 6-year-old boys and girls at an expensive English school to name the bear, and so "insult" the prophet Muhammad.
The penalty carries the death sentence for Muslims in Sudan, where Islamic Shariah law is enforced in Khartoum and the north, but a non-Muslim could face a maximum penalty of lashes, prison, a fine and deportation if found guilty.
A shaken Ms. Gibbons, whom a British Embassy spokesman said yesterday had not yet been charged and who never intended that naming the bear would cause offense, was poised to spend a second night in police custody.
"She was arrested yesterday by the local police, and she`s currently being held in a police station in Khartoum. We visited her today. She`s shaken up, but she`s all right," said the embassy spokesman.
"We`re following up with the Sudanese authorities and also with the school who are providing her with legal representation. She`s not been charged officially, but there are still investigations going on," the spokesman said.
Sudanese officials yesterday closed the fee-paying, Christian-run Unity High School until further notice, one teacher told Agence France-Presse on the condition of anonymity.
The British headmistress of the school, where the majority of pupils are Muslim from well-off Sudanese and expatriate families, could not be reached.