Teddy Teacher Gillian Gibbons Finally Freed!

(God, I love alliteration!)

Gillian Gibbons

Controversial expat British teacher Gillian Gibbons, who was jailed in Khartoum for allowing her pupils to name a teddy bear “Muhammad,” is to be freed, having been granted a presidential pardon.

The Guardian has the hairy details:

The breakthrough came after a meeting between two British Muslim peers, Lord Nazir Ahmed and Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, with Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir.

Lord Ahmed said al-Bashir had agreed to pardon the teacher.

Allah BearAsked whether Gibbons had been pardoned, a presidential adviser told Reuters: “Definitely, yes.”…

Reacting to the news, Khalid al-Mubarak, of the Sudanese embassy in London, said: “Congratulations. I am overjoyed.

“She is a teacher who went to teach our children English and she has helped a great deal and I am very grateful. What has happened was a cultural misunderstanding, a minor one, and I hope she, her family and the British people won’t be affected by what has happened.

There is, at this time, no word on whether the Americans now intend to place her in custody for referring to the problematic plush in question as a Teddy Bear.

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35 thoughts on “Teddy Teacher Gillian Gibbons Finally Freed!

  1. Hooray for Mrs Gibbons

    Her next Challenge ???

    Teaching counting in remote, but tolerant & sensible (albeit mathemagically=challenged) peripheral areas of Canuckistan

  2. Oh she’s out? Well glad I checked out Raincoasters site for an update on British foreign affairs, nice one. Er.. where can I get a bear? Love it :-)

    PS: thought of you yesterday when I heard on the radio that the Spice Girls are starting their tour in Canada – ha ha haaa. I can picture you now in platforms and union jack hot-pants Raincoaster :-D

  3. You know, I’m getting my hair done and have been attempting to find a picture of the really-ginger Ginger Spice to show the hairdresser…

    Unfortunately, I haven’t got the budget for concerts, or I’d have gone. I love gays!

  4. Shame the UK government and the international community has done little about the genocide in Darfur purportrated by Islamic fighters who are given tacit support by the Sudanese government.

    400000 slaughtered in recent years.

    A more worthy cause than “Free Blogs in Turkey” I suggest

  5. I don’t think she should’ve been released earlier to be honest. She broke the law which she has to respect when choosing to live in another country.

    But I believe that I am pretty much on my own with that opinion..

  6. Cat:

    She didn’t break the law–the kids in her class did. She asked them for a name. They suggested a name they presumably felt was respectful. She, in ignorance of the daft medeival laws governing the place she was working in, concurred.

    This should never have been a courtroom matter. One of the parents, perhaps, should have had a quiet word with her after class sometime.

    But in any case, gods should surely need no legal protections.

    Now if you want to talk about jailing lawbreakers in Sudan, you should join with Jeremy and agitate for the prosecution of that pack of rat bastards, the government of Sudan, for the crimes taking place in Darfur over the mild objections of the international community.

  7. Cat, I agreed with you, but Metro makes a good point. But it is indeed against the law and I’m glad to see, as Iain Dale said, that diplomacy has had at least one victory lately.

    Jeremy: it’s a fallacy to think that those involved in one cause are insensitive to, and unhelpful towards, others.

    Either a sovereign nation has the right to make and administer laws on its soil or it does not. How do you all feel about the recent US statement that they have the authority to enforce US law on UK citizens in the UK? Isn’t that comparable to like enforcing UK laws on people in the Sudan? This was a case for diplomacy, and it won.

  8. Medieval laws? Doesn’t matter, it’s the law in that country. She is an adult, she went there to live and work, she should’ve been aware of the laws. And yes, it was the kids, but she should’ve steered the conversation. What if they wanted to call it a swearword?

    What right do we have to get involved with it? It’s just us [US, Can, EU] being condescending.

    Take sweatshops with children working in them in India/China/other parts of Asia for example. It’s the way it is in that country, yet we think it’s something really horrible..

    When in Rome..

  9. I’m not too sure that it was actually diplomacy that changed something though.

    Everyone in the UK is talking about it, it’s in all the German stories, it’s across the pond, everywhere which makes me think it was more blackmail and the Sudan realising they’d rather do something now before being hated by everyone.

    I think 15 days was pretty good, it’s short and they got their punishment, everyone here was moderately happy as it could’ve been far more.

  10. Blackmail is an old diplomatic technique, though. I don’t think they’d have been in MORE trouble if they’d kept her the full 15 days, so it was bonus points on their part to release her early. And it appears that it was those two from the House of Lords who got the pardon for her; a pardon is not an inconsequential thing, either. It sets a precedent.

    Everyone just totally wigs out when Sharia law is imposed, even in a watered-down version like that. It’s news.

  11. Oh hell yeah, we Americans are next in line to string her up damn her for taking our president’s name and applying it to a regligious plush toy.

  12. …. but was it really against Sudanese Law

    Which is more insulting to Islam :

    Giving the name Mohammed to a cold-blooded Mass-Murder, who flew a plane into the Twin Towers, murdering thousands, Muslim and non-Muslim alike

    or Calling a much-loved Teddy Bear “Mohammed”

  13. max: yep, all governments are alike, eh?

    GEagle: yes, it was. I don’t care about Islamic law, I am only talking about the rights of nations to make and administer their own laws: either they have it or they don’t, whether we like the laws or not. Whether or not any given law is morally right is, of course, a completely different question.

    That so many laws exist which are so morally repugnant is yet another reason I’m an anarchist.

  14. @Cat:
    I agree, she should have been aware of the laws. Just as you, presumably, are aware all laws of your home state, and all the ramifications thereof.

    I trust you do not intend to die in the Houses of Parliament?

    It’s tripe to suggest that this woman should have known that the naming of a teddy bear could end up with her in jail (much less the flogging thing). Where would you expect her to get that knowledge? Where would that come up in conversation?

    And to compare repressive religious law to sweatshops is to compare apples to toaster ovens. Or possibly laboriously stitched sneakers …

    As it turns out, it appears that the original complaint may have been filed by someone who wanted the only real high school in Khartoum shut down.

    Aw come on–who’d name a teddy bear “@$$#013”?

    @Gillian Gibbons:
    If you should find yourself teaching in France, please be aware that it will be illegal to name the class pig “Napoleon”. However, since France is civilized, it is possible you may simply be faced with a fine.

  15. Metro, with respect, you do not know what you are talking about. When my mother worked in Saudi Arabia, she had to sign a document stating that she was aware of the religious laws and agreed to abide by them, no matter what. If there is one thing the religious police are good at, it’s letting you know what the want you NOT to do.

  16. My question really isn’t about whether or not she was briefed. I’m resonably sure the employment agency or the school would have tipped her off.

    Which means that somehow, during that briefing, no-one ever thought to mention that naming a plush toy “Mohammed” was in violation of those peculiar laws.

    I mean, parents name their kids Mohammed all the time, right? So why not a stuffed bear? A teddy bear has a great deal to reccomend it, religiously speaking. Very clean, patient and tolerant, never talks back … Just sits there and takes what you dish out. Positively a candidate for sainthood, is your average plush bear.

    Mind you, I have yet to hear from the Pope on whether I was wrong to name my inflate-a-mate Mary.

  17. Or it means that she knew she was taking a chance and she took it, just like people snorting coke in Vancouver, just like my mother square dancing in Riyadh. When you gamble, sometimes you lose.

    Tell it to the Sudan, Metro. You’re not making a point, you’re just repeating yourself.

  18. Is everyone missing this was the kids?

    This is some dumb sweet anglo teacher who wanted to see the world and do good after a shockinigly painful divorce that was bad enough she left her home and family and country or origin and fled to a freaking Muslim state, who set out to parts Muslim to teach children English in order to feel like she was doing good in the world — that she could do something meaningful in the world, a small item her ex-husband, parents, and blood sucking children apparently could not see in her but which she still hoped was there. So off she went. And, after having her parents, her husband, her blood sucking children suck the life out of her, after setting out on this road to do good, she was tripped up by… wait for it… children.

    Kids are mean and have a wicked sense of humor. So. In a classroom, she pulled out a freaking plush toy, [wow mistake of the century numer one], and the “children” helpfully suggested she name it Mohammed. And dumb git that she was, she did.

    It was a very mean joke. Suggest a name so wrong to the dumb white chick teaching the class. They probably considered it an in class joke she would never get. just something they could laugh about every time they saw that bear and watched her talk about it by name.

    Unfortunately, someone outside the classroom heard about it.

    To me this all just means kids in other nations are just as freaking mean and vicious and stupid as they are here.

    Way to go, Muslim State Peeps. You suck too.

  19. Wow, major typoes. Apparently my last two hours on the phone with Time Warner ironing out that small two and a half freaking month old “glitch” in their service contract for a damn phone is taking its toll on me.

  20. Phone plans will do that to people.

    I hadn’t heard anyone else propose that the kids set her up. They were pretty young; if they’d been 10 or 12, then I might buy it. I just think the kids anthropomorphized and that the government put the responsibility on the person who was, after all, in charge of the class.

  21. Thank goodness she is free. Now I wonder if the press will start reporting that those being killed by the Sudan government and supporters in Darfur are Christians… Nah…that’s asking for too much

  22. Where do you people live that you aren’t getting this information? I mean, obviously you ARE getting it…so why does everyone, and I mean EVERYONE claim that nobody’s getting the word?

  23. Of course it was the kids. Imagine you are this age in a classroom, you have a foreign instructor who does not know all the slang and cultural rules, and she pulls out a bear and says, So what should we call the bear, Class? And Bad Johnny tosses out a very wrong suggestion. And everyone is real quiet waiting to see what will happen. And the teacher, clueless, says, Very Good Bad Johnny, we will call the bear Fook Yer Mom.

    It had to be a real good time with that bear right up until a secretary walking by overheard someone say the bear’s name.

  24. Well, we do not have an exact correlation because English speaking Christians do not as a rule name their kids Jesus. I am betting though that those kids knew it was not okay to name that bear Mohammed. Little blasphemers.

  25. You persuade me more and more. An intriguing hypothesis. Would it violate the writer’s strike to send it to Comment Is Free on the Guardian? Not that they pay either…

  26. Well if they are not a network or studio signatory company submitting to them does not cross a WGA picket line. I would look for a paying market before making a submission to a non-paying one though.

  27. And I’m coming to the party late…

    It doesn’t matter if it’s the kids though. If you go tork/live in a foreign country you gotta make sure you know the laws. Ignorance doesn’t protect you.

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