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Student defends Briton jailed for insulting Islam

ICC Note

“The teacher asked me what I wanted to call the teddy,” the boy said shyly, his voice barely rising above a whisper. “I said Mohammad. I named it after my name,” he added.

By Opheera McDoom

Tue 27 Nov 2007 Sudan (Reuters) – A 7-year-old Sudanese student on Tuesday defended the British teacher accused of insulting Islam saying he had chosen to call a teddy bear Mohammad because it was his own name.

Gillian Gibbons, a 54-year-old teacher at the Unity High School in Khartoum , was arrested on Sunday after complaints from parents that she had insulted Islam’s Prophet by allowing the bear to be named Mohammad. She is facing a third night in jail without being formally charged.

“The teacher asked me what I wanted to call the teddy,” the boy said shyly, his voice barely rising above a whisper. “I said Mohammad. I named it after my name,” he added.

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Mohammad said Gibbons was “very nice” and he would be upset if she never came back to teach. He added Gibbons had not discussed religion nor did she mention the Prophet.

“We studied maths and English and spelling,” he said, rubbing his mop of short, curly hair.

Formal Charges

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If charged and convicted of insulting Islam, Gibbons could be sentenced to 40 lashes, six months in prison or a fine, lawyers said.

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