In a development in the incident that has been beat to death by rightwingers here as proof that Islam is not a religion of peace, a British schoolteacher in Sudan has been pardoned by the President of Sudan and had the remainder of her 15 day jail sentence commuted.
A British teacher in Sudan jailed over the naming of a teddy bear has been released from police custody, the British Embassy in Khartoum said, several hours after Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir pardoned her.
Gillian Gibbons, freed after Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir granted her a presidential pardon earlier Monday, apologized for any distress her actions may have caused.
Now clearly her ignorance of what Muslims would find offensive (and thus she was unequipped to override her students) is not worthy of jail time, but the pardon shows some sensitivity by Sudanese officials. The fact that some hardliners agitated for her execution isn’t really noteworthy: hardliners here in the States say all kinds of crazy things that aren’t really indicative of our justice system. (For example, that thieves shot by homeowners got “justice”; that’s only true if you believe all thieves should be executed.)
In fact, I’d like to point out this passage from a Time article about protests around the time of her sentencing:
Riot police looked on as the protesters marched from the palace to Unity High School, where Gibbons had taught, and then on to the British embassy. But the demonstration was isolated, and most of Khartoum remained peaceful. Many Sudanese families spent the afternoon in the city’s small parks along the Nile River as usual.
Teachers at Unity High have stood by their colleague, noting that the first complaint came only last week despite the fact that parents had been aware of the class bear’s name since September.
Funny, I don’t remember seeing right-wingers mentioning any of this. Probably because it undermines their propaganda.