Monday, December 3

Gillian Gibbons pardoned and freed, but the matter will not end there

Two of Britain's peers were successful today at wangling a pardon from Sudan's president for Gillian Gibbons. She has been released into the care of British officials. The exact time of her leaving Sudan has not been announced for security reasons but a spokesman for Sudan's president said she would "fly back to England today." According to the Guardian Unlimited:
A spokesman said President al-Bashir insisted that Mrs Gibbons had a "fair trial," but he agreed to pardon her because of the efforts by the British Muslim delegation. [...]

Lord Nazir Ahmed, who met President al-Bashir along with Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, said the case was an "unfortunate misunderstanding" and stressed that Britain respected Islam. He hoped "the relations between our two countries will not be damaged by this incident".
The Guardian also reports on Gillian's statement after her release:
"I have a great respect for the Islamic religion and would not knowingly offend anyone. I am looking forward to seeing my family and friends, but I am very sorry that I will be unable to return to Sudan."
Gillian seems unaware that if not for the huge outcry about her case from many citizens and governments around the world, she could easily have been found guilty of the more serious charge of inciting hatred against Islam. That charge carries the penalty of 40 lashes -- administered immediately after sentencing -- and six months in prison and a fine.

During the post-trial protests in Khartoum calling for Gillian's death, a BBC reporter interviewed a protestor who explained that Gillian's insult to Islam "crossed a red line." Likely the protestor, and Gillian, are unaware that her case also crossed a red line. See my Saturday post Death to Gillian Gibbons, brings us the head of Taslima Nasrin, hang Atefeh Sahaaleh, 200 lashes for the Qatif Girl: Islamic justice in action.

Odd to think that such a foolish woman would set in motion events that will change in the course of history. I suppose that's why I termed her an unlikely Helen of Troy. Later today -- maybe around 4:00 PM ET -- I will publish another post on the topic.

Now that Sudan's government realizes their prosecution of Gillian has ricocheted against Islam, they are scrambling to spread the blame:
KHARTOUM, Sudan (CNN)-- In an effort to shut down Khartoum's Unity High School, a disgruntled former employee alerted Sudanese officials that a British teacher had allowed her class to name a teddy bear "Mohammed," a British source and Sudanese presidential palace source told Time magazine's Sam Dealey.

The two sources said Sarah Khawad was fired as the school's secretary in November after an employment spat and threatened to shut down the school.

The sources said Khawad did not appear to have a vendetta against Gibbons, but hoped that by bringing the teddy bear incident to the education minister's attention, he would close down the school for anti-Islamic teachings.

The private school was shut down after the controversy came to light last week. It is unclear if it will reopen.

Although there is no ban in the Quran on images of Allah or the Prophet Mohammed, Islam's founder, some Muslims consider likenesses highly offensive.

The sources said they have confirmed the account with Gibbons.

Defense attorneys confirmed that it was Khawad who launched the initial complaint against Gibbons, not a parent as originally thought. Khawad also testified at Gibbons' trial.

Before approaching Sudan's education minister, the two sources said Khawad tried to enlist two parents, who were also teachers at the school, to join in her protest against the teddy bear's name, but they declined.

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