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Last Updated: Friday, 30 November 2007, 00:04 GMT
Teddy row teacher verdict reaction
Gillian Gibbons
Gillian Gibbons will be deported after serving her sentence

British teacher Gillian Gibbons, 54, from Liverpool, has been sentenced to 15 days in prison in Sudan after she allowed her pupils to call a teddy bear Muhammad.

Politicians and religious leaders gave their response to the court's decision.

DR MUHAMMAD ABDUL BARI, MUSLIM COUNCIL OF BRITAIN

This case should have required only simple common sense to resolve. It is unfortunate that the Sudanese authorities were found wanting in this most basic of qualities.

They grossly overreacted in this sad affair. Gillian should never have been arrested, let alone charged and convicted of committing a crime.

We hope that Gillian will be able to return home without much further delay.

BISHOP OF LIVERPOOL, THE RIGHT REVEREND JAMES JONES, ASKED HOW HE FELT ABOUT THE DECISION

Obviously relief that there won't be the public lashing which everybody feared, but deep disappointment because this was clearly a mistake and I know that the Muslim community here in Liverpool will be as disappointed as anybody.

I think, too, a real anxiety that something like this so badly handled in this way [and] won't do anything to build up good relations between the faith communities.

LOUISE ELLMAN MP, LIVERPOOL RIVERSIDE

What was an innocent error escalated into a charge, and a charge of which she's now been found guilty.

The fear was that this wasn't seen as an individual issue but as something that could get bound up in international politics.

MIKE BLAKEMORE, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

The sentence is a mockery of justice and Amnesty International consider Gillian to be a prisoner of conscience.

She should be immediately and unconditionally released.

CATHERINE WOLTHUIZEN, FAIR TRIALS ABROAD

There was no intent on her part.

A number of people have come forward and made that very clear, both in Sudan and here, that at worst it was just a misunderstanding based on naivety, but even so that a number of her colleagues at the time saw very little wrong, or very little that was likely to cause any offence, in terms of the naming of the bear.

So I think she is not someone who has sought to cause offence, she's not someone who's acted foolishly, but she perhaps hasn't necessarily understood the extent to which some of the parents might have been sensitive to the use of this name.

DR ROWAN WILLIAMS, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

I can't see any justification for this at all.

I think that this is an absurdly disproportionate response to what is at best a minor cultural faux pas. And I think that it's done the Sudanese government no credit whatever.


SEE ALSO
Pupil defends Sudan row teacher
28 Nov 07 |  Africa
What can't be named Muhammad?
28 Nov 07 |  Magazine
Q&A: Depicting the Prophet Muhammad
02 Feb 06 |  Middle East



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