Gillian Gibbons has been given a “lenient” fifteen-day sentence for allegedly insulting the Prophet by allowing her pupils to name a teddy bear Muhammad after asking them to vote for a name that they liked. The judge ignored any question of (lack of) intent or cultural misunderstanding despite strong support from her pupils, their parents and teaching staff at the primary school where she taught in Khartoum. This whole affair is setting the worst possible example: where is the tolerance, understanding, clemency or mercy? It displays harshness and pettiness in equal measure and leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. It seems to be a political case through and through, as Soumaya Gannoushi argues, and has more to do with the Sudanese government looking to pin back what it sees as British interference in Darfur.
Gillian Gibbons should be freed immediately, cleared of all charges and be given an official apology from the Sudanese government.