Islamic fanatics demand death for `Teddy bear teacher

November 29th, 2007 - 4:01 pm ICT by admin  

London, Nov.29 (ANI): Islamic anger is at a high in the East African country of Sudan over a British teacher who let her pupils call a teddy bear Mohammed.
So high are the tempers that some Sudanese are demanding the death penalty for Gillian Gibbons.
Gibbons is currently facing the prospect of being lashed 40 times and a year in jail after being charged with insulting Islam.
She was charged after behind-the-scenes political moves to avoid a court case collapsed amid growing Islamic anger in the east African country.
A powerful Sudanese newspaper urged authorities to call a hardline Islamist leader linked to Osama bin Laden to give evidence at her trial, to stress how offensive the case was to Muslims.
Extreme Islamic groups said Mrs Gibbons “must die” and urged Muslims to hold street protests after prayers tomorrow, reports the Daily Mail.
In London, Foreign Secretary David Miliband summoned the Sudanese Ambassador, while Downing Street made it clear that Gordon Brown was ‘disappointed’ over the 54-year-old teacher being charged.
The Muslim Council of Britain said it was “appalled” at the decision.
Legal sources in Khartoum said it is possible the case could be dealt with in a single hearing.
One lawyer said that if Mrs Gibbons pleads guilty and makes profuse apologies, she could emerge with a “relatively minor penalty” such as a hefty fine or a jail term equivalent to the four days she has already spent in custody.
But he warned that rising anger in Sudan, as news of the case spread, might affect the court’s decision.
Yesterday, Mrs Gibbons met British consular officials in the jailhouse where she is being held. She looked tired and pale as she was escorted across the dusty courtyard with a blanket around her shoulders.
The mother of two grown-up children was arrested on Sunday after parents were said to have complained she had insulted Islam’s prophet by naming a teddy bear Mohammed as part of a class project.
However, a boy of seven came forward on Tuesday to say it was “all his fault”, as he and his classmates at the Unity High School had voted to call the bear Mohammed after his own name.
He insisted his teacher had not intended to insult Islam.
Gibbons technically faces three charges - insulting Islam, inciting religious hatred and contempt for religious beliefs - each of which carries a maximum penalty of 40 lashes and a year in jail. But it is believed she will stand trial on only one.
Abdul Daem Zumrawi, the Justice Ministry’s undersecretary, said: “What will be applied is at the discretionary power of the judge.”
Brown’s spokesman said: “We are surprised and disappointed by this development.”
Gibbons’s former husband, Peter Gibbons, 54, said last night that he and their children Jessica, 27, and John, 25, had been horrified at the news that she had been charged. (ANI)

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