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Sudan jails UK 'teddy row' teacher
British teacher charged with insulting Islam jailed for 15 days in Sudan.
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2007 19:30 GMT

Gibbons was arrested after complaints she insulted Prophet Mohammed by giving his name to a toy [AFP]

A British teacher, accused of insulting Islam after her school pupils named a teddy bear Muhammad, has been sentenced to jail for 15 days in Sudan.
Gillian Gibbons, 54, was arrested on Sunday after complaints to the education ministry that she had insulted Prophet Muhammad - the most revered figure in Islam - by applying his name to a toy animal at the Unity High School in capital Khartoum.
Ali Mohammed Hajab, a member of her defence team, said: "The judge found Gillian Gibbons guilty and sentenced her to 15 days jail and deportation."
 
The maximum penalty for the charge, which has attracted worldwide attention was 40 lashes, a fine and six months in prison.
 
Teachers at the school say that calling the teddy bear Muhammad was not Gibbons' idea in the first place and that no parents objected when the school sent parents circulars about a reading project which included the teddy bear as a fictional participant.
 
'Fair verdict'

Robert Boulos, of Unity High, said: "It's a very fair verdict, she could have had six months and lashes and a fine, and she only got 15 days and deportation," adding they would not appeal the decision.

Gibbons is expected to serve out her sentence in the Omdurman women's prison near Khartoum before being deported.

The director of the school employing Gibbons said that since she had already spent five days in prison she would serve only 10 days.

A British foreign office spokeswoman said: "We are extremely disappointed with the sentence and foreign secretary David Miliband has summoned the Sudanese ambassador to explain what has happened."

Muhammad is a popular name in Sudan but Islam forbids any physical representation of the Prophet Muhammad.

Source:
Agencies
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