Sudan president pardons British teacher

Updated: 2007-12-03 20:39

Khartoum - Sudan's president on Monday pardoned a British teacher jailed in the country for allowing her students to name a teddy bear Muhammad - putting an end to a case that has outraged Britons and Muslims around the world.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir (R) shakes hands with Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, a Muslim representative from Britain's House of Lords, as Lord Nazir Ahmed, center, looks on before their meeting in Khartoum, Sudan, December 3, 2007. [Agencies]

The teacher, Gillian Gibbons, said she did not intend to offend anyone and had great respect for Islam. Sudanese officials said she would be released later Monday, the same day two Muslim British politicians met with President Omar al-Bashir to seek the pardon.

"The president has told us he has already signed the papers for her pardon," Lord Nazir Ahmed, who met al-Bashir along with Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, a fellow representative from Britain's House of Lords, told reporters afterward.

Sudanese presidential spokesman Mahzoub Faidul said that Gibbons would "be released today and will fly back to England today." However, travel agents in Sudan said the earliest European-bound flights would not leave Khartoum until the early hours on Tuesday.

British embassy spokesman Omar Daair said "arrangements for her release are being made," but he would not more provide more details for security reasons.

Gibbons was sentenced on Thursday to 15 days in prison and deportation for insulting Islam because she allowed her students to name a class teddy bear Muhammad, seen as a reference to Islam's Prophet Muhammad.

The teacher's conviction under Sudan's Islamic Sharia law shocked Britons and many Muslims worldwide. It also inflamed passions among many Sudanese, some of whom called for her execution.

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