Since Sudanese authorities arrested British school teacher Gillian Gibbons on Sunday 25 November and charged her with insulting Islam and inciting hatred, no mention of the case has been made on both state radio and television. Privately-owned Sudanese press, has however, carried reactions and factual reports on the arrest with state-run Sudanese News Agency carrying the "only" official government reaction in a statement by Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Ali al-Sadiq, who condemned the teacher's conduct but termed the row an "isolated incident".
Privately owned, Khartoum-based English-language newspaper The Citizen in an editorial on Thursday 29 November said Gibbons risked being flogged for what her school director called an "innocent mistake". The editorial blamed her ordeal on pressure from "Islamic fundamentalists" at the Ministry of Education and feared that "another fanatic is likely to listen to her case in the court." It concluded that the case "reflects what non-Muslims living in northern Sudan go through every day."
Following media reports on Gibbons' arrest, most daily newspapers carried a statement on Tuesday 27 November issued by the Unity High School, saying the school's administration was confident Gibbons would get a fair trial since it believed in the "impartiality" of the Sudanese judiciary system. The statement then said the school, in a bid to make the teacher accountable for her deeds, had "decided to dismiss her immediately from the school". The scho! ol, in its statement, stressed that "since it was established in 1902 the school continues to hold deep respect for religion while providing a unique example of religious co-existence between its students."
Liberal Al-Sahafah newspaper also reported on Thursday 29 November that the Unity High School parents' council had upheld the decision by the school administration to dismiss Gibbons. The council chairman, Isam Abu-Hasabu, told Al-Sahafah on 28 November that "the council condemned the teacher's behaviour that transgressed the customs and culture of the Sudanese society." Abu-Hasabu reiterated his trust on the judiciary and legal apparatuses in the country adding that the council's would be against any kind of protest that may infringe on the security and safety of the students, their parents and that of the country.
Government-run, Arabic-language Sudan News Agency, on Wednesday 28 November, quoted Justice Ministry Undersecretary Abd-al-Mun'im Zumrawi announcing that investigations into the case were complete and that the North Khartoum Attorney's Office "had charged the British citizen, Gillian [Gibbons], under Article 25 of the Penal Code relating to insulting religious belief, inciting hatred and contempt of the belief."
Sudan News Agency on Tuesday 27 November quoted the official spokesman at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Ali al-Sadiq, saying Gibbons' conduct was "totally repulsive" but stressing that the incident was "isolated". Al-Sadiq then commented on a UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office warning to its citizens living in Sudan saying the arrest of the teacher "for disrespecting Islam" was not warranted "especially when the school administration has apologized to the children's parents and the Sudanese people for what th! e teacher had done."
Al-Sahafah published a report by Khalid Fathi on 27 November entitled "British teacher accused of defaming the Prophet: Gillian stands on a volcano" in which Fathi outlines the events that led to the incident and subsequent dismissal of Gibbons from her post, as well as, drawing parallels between the case and "violent reactions " resulting from the publication of Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses and Danish Jyllands-Posten's publication of caricatures defaming Prophet Muhammad.
Sudanese Media Centre web site on 27 November published a report on the "legal arrangements" under way "to issue a warrant of arrest against the suspect upon a complaint presented by the Ministry of Education".
Pro-government Akhbar al-Yawm newspaper on Wednesday 28 November published the reaction of Sudanese Muslim clerics (ulemas] who say they received a copy of letter dated 15 September 2007 from the Unity High School authorities detailing a "grave insult at the Prophet by naming a stuffed toy in the shape of a bear calling it Muhammad". The report then summarizes the actions taken by the clerics' authority, which contacted the concerned parties and sent a delegation to visit the school. According to the clerics, the "school's authority completely denied any knowledge of the letter and said the British teacher's actions were personal and had occurred without the administration's knowledge." The clerics then demanded an apology over the incident and demanded the sacking of the teacher saying they "reserved the legal right to file for judicial procedures against any one who is proven to have directed an insult at the Prophet."
In the sa! me report, Akhbar al-Yawm newspaper carries a denunciation from the [ruling] National Congress Party Students' Secretariat condemning the act of the British teacher at Unity High School in Khartoum and her insult against the Prophet Muhammad.
Sources: As given