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Briton in Islam insult case comes home

ICC Note

“I’m just an ordinary middle-aged primary school teacher. I went out there to have an adventure, and got a bit more than I bargained for,”

By Rob Harris

December 4, 2007 Sudan (Yahoo! News)- A British teacher returned to her northern English hometown Tuesday after being pardoned in Sudan for insulting Islam by allowing her students to name a teddy bear Muhammad.

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“She’s had a long journey home and is thinking about events and just wants to spend some time with her family,” said Richard Clein, associate director of the Bell Pottinger North public relations firm. “I think the family are surprised at the amount of interest … we’ve been asked here to tell you to leave.”

After traveling through the night from Sudan , Gibbons told reporters at London ‘s Heathrow Airport that she was stunned by the swift turn of events and her eight days in jail.

“I’m just an ordinary middle-aged primary school teacher. I went out there to have an adventure, and got a bit more than I bargained for,” she said. “I don’t think anyone could have imagined it would snowball like this.”

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However, the case escalated as Muslim clerics in Sudan sought to drum up public outrage, calling the naming of the teddy bear part of a Western plot to insult the prophet and demanding Gibbons be punished.

Gibbons, 54, was freed Monday after two Muslim members of Britain ‘s House of Lords met with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. The teacher sent the president a statement saying she did not mean any offense.

“I’m very glad to be back, and I’m a little shocked about all the media attention that I’ve been getting. I’m looking forward to seeing my family and friends and to have a good rest, and I’m hoping that you’ll give me space in order to do that,” she said at Heathrow.

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When asked her feelings about the offense she was accused of, she said: “I don’t think I really know enough about it to comment really. It’s a very difficult area and a very delicate area.”

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Children and staff at Liverpool ‘s Garston Church of England Primary School, where she taught for 12 years until 2000, had been praying for her safe return.

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