Teacher May Receive 40 Lashes For Allowing Class To Name Teddy Bear
Khartoum, Sudan (The Weekly Vice) - A 52 year old British teacher has been charged with inciting hatred, insulting religion and showing contempt of religious beliefs after she allowed her class to choose the name Muhammad for a stuffed teddy bear.
If found guilty, Gibbons could face a large fine, 6 months in prison or a punishment of 40 lashes.
The teacher, and mother of two was teaching a lesson about animal habitats and invited one of her pupils to bring in a teddy bear the student owned. She then invited the class to think of names for the toy. Several names were offered, however the teacher's class ultimately decided on the name Muhammad.
Gibbons was arrested after a parent complained, accusing her of naming the teddy bear after the Islam prophet Muhammad. Although it is common for Muslim men to be named Muhammad, apparently giving this name to a toy or animal is considered Blasphemy.
A British Foreign Office spokesman confirmed that Gibbons had indeed been official charged in the case.
"Khartoum north prosecution unit has completed it's investigation and has charged the Briton Gillian (Gibbons) under Article 125 of the criminal code," Suna said quoting a senior Justice Ministry official.
British lawmaker, William Hague called on the British government to "Make it clear to the Sudanese authorities that she should be released immediately. To condemn Gillian Gibbons to such brutal and barbaric punishment for what appears to be an innocent mistake is clearly unacceptable."
The English-language private school, Unity High School, has been closed for at least the next week until the tensions ease.
The school issued a statement in local newspapers calling the incident a "misunderstand". It also reiterated the school's "Deep respect for the heavenly religions" and support for "beliefs of Muslims and their rituals".
The school has also added that "the misunderstanding that has been raised over this issue leads to divisions that are disadvantageous to the reputation of the tolerant Sudanese people."