World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Sudanese teddy bear blasphemy case

Article Id: WHEBN0014513892
Reproduction Date:

Title: Sudanese teddy bear blasphemy case  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Teddy bears, 2007 in Sudan, Blasphemy, Religion in Sudan, Timeline of Sudanese history
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Sudanese teddy bear blasphemy case

The Sudanese teddy bear blasphemy case concerns the 2007 arrest, trial, conviction, imprisonment and subsequent release of British schoolteacher Gillian Gibbons, who taught middle-class Muslim and Christian children at Unity High School in Khartoum, Sudan.[1]
Teddy Bear, illustrative


Gillian Gibbons was born in 1953 and gained a Bachelor of Education degree from the CF Mott College of Education in Prescot in 1975 (the college closed in 1992). Teaching in a school in Sudan, she was arrested for allegedly insulting Islam by allowing her class of six-year-olds to name a teddy bear "Muhammad".[1][2][3]

Initially it was thought that the complaint had originated from a parent of one of the children at the school. However, it was later revealed that an office assistant employed at the school, Sara Khawad, had filed the complaint and was the key witness for the prosecution.[4] Khawad was said to be angry with the school's head teacher. "I was used by the secretary to get at the school", Gibbons told The Guardian shortly after her release.[1]

Sudan's legal system is strongly influenced by [5] as Gibbons did not set out to cause offence.[6] The chairman of the Unity School council, Ezikiel Kondo, indicated that he perceived ulterior motives in the affair, "The thing may be very simple, but they just may make it bigger. It's a kind of blackmail."[7]

Conviction and reaction

On 25 November 2007, Gibbons was arrested, interrogated and then put in a cell at a local police station.[1] On 28 November, it was reported that she had been formally charged under Section 125 of the Sudanese Criminal Act, for "insulting religion, inciting hatred, sexual harassment, racism, prostitution and showing contempt for religious beliefs".[8][9] This carries a maximum sentence of imprisonment, a fine, or 40 British Muslim groups, including MPACUK[11] said the punishment was "completely unjustified"[12] and that it was "appalled",[13] and called on the Sudanese government to intervene.[14]

On 30 November approximately 10,000 protesters took to the streets in Khartoum,[15] some of them waving swords and machetes, demanding Gibbons's execution after imams denounced her during Friday prayers.[16][17] During the march, chants of "Shame, shame on the UK", "No tolerance – execution" and "Kill her, kill her by firing squad" were heard. Witnesses reported that government employees were involved in inciting the protests.[18] Gibbons was then moved to a secret location because of fears for her safety.[19]


In an attempt to push for the release of Gibbons, two British Muslim peers (members of the House of Lords), Lord Ahmed (Labour) and Baroness Warsi (Conservative), visited Sudan with hopes of talking to the country's President Omar al-Bashir.[19]

While the two British politicians were meeting the President on 3 December it was announced that Gibbons was to be released from prison having been granted a Presidential pardon. After eight days in jail, she was released into the care of the British embassy in Khartoum and then returned to Liverpool, after issuing a written statement saying: "I have a great respect for the Islamic religion and would not knowingly offend anyone."[20][21]


The school was closed until January 2008 for the safety of pupils and staff as reprisals were feared.[3][22]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Day, Elizabeth (8 December 2007). "'I was terrified that the guards would come in and teach me a lesson'". Guardian. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  2. ^ Muhammad' teddy teacher arrested"'".  
  3. ^ a b Crilly, Rob; Bannerman, Lucy (27 November 2007). "Sudan police throw teacher in jail for teddy bear named Muhammad". Khartoum, London:  
  4. ^ Stratton, Allegra (30 November 2007). "Jailed teddy row teacher appeals for tolerance". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 1 December 2007. The complainant was named as Sara Khawad, an office assistant at the school, who was the key prosecution witness 
  5. ^ "Muhammad & the teddy bear: a case of intercultural incompetence". 29 November 2007. Retrieved 1 December 2007. 
  6. ^ "Sudanese Views differ in Teddy Row", News ( .
  7. ^ "The Blasphemous Teddy Bear". Time. Retrieved 2014-06-04. 
  8. ^ Muhammad' Teacher charged over teddy row"'". BBC. 28 November 2007. Retrieved 29 November 2007. 
  9. ^ "UK teacher goes to court in Sudan". BBC. 29 November 2007. Retrieved 29 November 2007. 
  10. ^ "UK teacher jailed over teddy row". BBC News. 29 November 2007. Retrieved 29 November 2007. 
  11. ^ "MPACUK on BBC". BBC News. Retrieved 26 December 2010. 
  12. ^ "UK: Sudan Ambassador Will Relay Concerns Over Teddy Bear Teacher".  
  13. ^ Addison, Stephen (29 November 2007). "Teddy bear teacher ― was she naive?".  
  14. ^ de Montesquiou, Alfred (29 November 2007). "Sudan Charges Teacher for Teddy Bear Name". Guardian Unlimited (London). Archived from the original on 2 December 2007. Retrieved 29 November 2007. 
  15. ^ Stratton, Allegra (30 November 2007). "Jailed teddy row teacher appeals for tolerance". London:  
  16. ^ Mohamed Osman (30 November 2007). "Calls in Sudan for execution of Briton". Associated Press. 
  17. ^ Onians, Charles (30 November 2007). "Khartoum demo calls for teacher to be shot".  
  18. ^ Gettleman, Jeffrey (30 November 2007). "Calls in Sudan for Execution of British Teacher".  
  19. ^ a b "UK peers in bid to free teacher".  
  20. ^ Teddy row teacher freed from jail, BBC World Service, 3 December 2007
  21. ^ "Teddy bear" teacher leaves Sudan after pardon", MSNBC
  22. ^ "Teddy bear teacher found guilty".  

External links

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.