Muhammad Teddy Bear Blasphemy Case

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The Muhammad teddy bear blasphemy case concerns the arrest, trial, conviction, imprisonment and subsequent release of British schoolteacher Gillian Gibbons who was working in Sudan.

In November 2007, following complaints from parents and colleagues, the fifty-four year-old was arrested on charges of blasphemy. Her crime was allowing her class of 7-year-old primary school pupils, at Unity High School in Khartoumto, to name a teddy bear 'Muhammad.' She was officially charged with "insulting religion, inciting hatred and showing contempt for religious beliefs,"[1][2] and was convicted of "insulting religion".[3]

On the 30th of November, as Gibbons appealed for non-Muslim tolerance towards Muslims, ten thousand[4][5] Muslim protesters (many who seemed to be from Sufi groups)[6] took to the streets, waving swords, machetes, and clubs, demanding Gibbons's execution after imams across the city denounced her actions during Jumu'ah (Friday prayers), some even calling for violence.[7][6][8] During the march, protester chanted "Shame, shame on the UK", "No tolerance: execution", "Kill her, kill her by firing squad".[7] Western journalists were harassed, and newspapers bearing her photographs were burnt.[9] Hundreds of riot police were deployed, but they did not attempt to stop the protest.[4] Due to fears for her safety, she was then moved to a secret location.[10]

The Sudanese Assembly of the Ulemas, which is made up of some of Sudan's top clerics, called for a harsh punishment, "What has happened was not haphazard or carried out of ignorance, but rather a calculated action and another ring in the circles of plotting against Islam,"[1] However, following the outrage in the UK, she was spared flogging or a long sentence. Instead, the fifty-four year-old was sentenced to 15 days' imprisonment, after which she was deported.[3]

See Also


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  1. 1.0 1.1 Teacher charged over teddy row - BBC News, November 28, 2007
  2. Nick McMaster - British Teacher Charged in Teddy Bear Flap - Newser, November 28, 2007
  3. 3.0 3.1 UK teacher jailed over teddy row - BBC News, November 29, 2007
  4. 4.0 4.1 Allegra Stratton - Jailed teddy row teacher appeals for tolerance - Guardian, November 30, 2007
  5. Teddy teacher: Lawyer expects her to be pardoned after visit from British Muslim peers - Mail Online, December 1, 2007
  6. 6.0 6.1 Mohamed Osman - Sudanese protesters seek teacher's death - Associated Press, December 1, 2007
  7. 7.0 7.1 Calls in Sudan for Execution of British Teacher - The New York Times, November 30, 2007
  8. Charles Onians - Khartoum demo calls for teacher to be shot - Agence France Press, November 30, 2007
  9. Sam Gale Rosen - Armed Mob Wants British Teacher Dead - Newser, November 30, 2007
  10. UK peers in bid to free teacher - BBC News, December 1, 2007