Monday, December 03, 2007

Sudan protest demands death for 'teddy teacher'

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) - Thousands of Sudanese, many armed with clubs and knives, rallied Friday in a central square and demanded the execution of a British teacher convicted of insulting Islam for allowing her students to name a teddy bear "Muhammad."

Hundreds of Sudanese Muslims have taken to the streets of Khartoum demanding death for the British school teacher convicted of insulting Islam after her class named a teddy bear Mohammad.

"No one lives who insults the Prophet," the protesters chanted, a day after 54-year-old Gillian Gibbons, was sentenced to 15 days in jail and deportation.

At least 600 protesters waved green Islamic flags, shook their fists or waved ceremonial swords, and chanted religious and nationalist slogans after leaving Muslim prayers. They called for Gibbons' execution, saying, "No tolerance: Execution," and "Kill her, kill her by firing squad."

The demonstrators made their way to Khartoum's presidential palace for a rally. Some burned newspapers that contained pictures of the teacher.

But they steered clear of Unity High School, where Gibbons worked. The school was guarded by five truckloads of police in riot gear.

Under Sudan's penal code, Gibbons could have faced 40 lashes, a fine or up to a year in jail.

In response to the demonstration, teacher Gillian Gibbons was moved from the women's prison near Khartoum to a secret location for her safety, her lawyer said.

The protesters streamed out of mosques after Friday sermons, as pickup trucks with loudspeakers blared messages against Gibbons, who was sentenced Thursday to 15 days in prison and deportation. She avoided the more serious punishment of 40 lashes.

They massed in central Martyrs Square outside the presidential palace, where hundreds of riot police were deployed. They did not try to stop the rally, which lasted about an hour.

"Shame, shame on the U.K.," protesters chanted.

- Reuters