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UK 'teddy row' teacher heads home
British teacher jailed in Sudan for insulting Islam flying back home.
Last Modified: 03 Dec 2007 19:39 GMT

Hundreds of people took to the  streets in Sudan
demanding the teacher be executed [AFP]

A British teacher jailed in Sudan for insulting Islam is flying back to Britain after being released following a presidential pardon.
 
Gillian Gibbons, who was sentenced to 15 days in jail for allowing her students to name a toy bear Muhammed, left Khartoum after two prominent British Muslims politicians appealed for her early release.
The teacher apologised in a statement for any "distress" she may have caused.
 
"I have great respect for the Islamic religion and would not knowingly offend anyone and I'm sorry if I caused any distress," Gibbons was quoted as saying.
UK House of Lords peers Lord Nazir Ahmed and Baroness Sayeeda Warsi secured Gibbons' early release after meeting Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese president on Monday.
 
Police heavily secured Khartoum airport as Gibbons flew out.
 
The arrest and jail sentence of the 54-year-old sparked outrage in Britain and a diplomatic crisis between London and Khartoum.
 
It further strained relations already frayed over the conflict in Darfur.
 
Angry protest
 
Gibbons let her pupils at Khartoum's private Unity High School pick their favourite name for a teddy bear as part of a project on animals in September.
 
Twenty out of 23 of them reportedly chose Muhammed - a popular boy's name in Sudan, as well as the name of Islam's holy prophet.
 
Sudan's influential Council of Muslim Scholars urged the government not to pardon Gibbons, saying it would damage Khartoum's reputation with Muslims around the world.
 
Hundreds of people took to the streets of the Sudanese capital on Friday, many waving swords and Islamic flags and calling for her execution.
Source:
Agencies
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