A rather sweet-looking middle-aged British lady allowed 6- and 7-year-olds at a private school to name a teddy bear Mohammed, and "thousands of Sudanese" want her dead? That's insane.
KHARTOUM, Sudan (FOX/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."
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.
The protesters called for Gibbons' execution, saying, "No tolerance: Execution," and "Kill her, kill her by firing squad."
.... Several hundred protesters, not openly carrying weapons, marched from the square to Unity High School, about a mile away, where Gibbons worked. They chanted slogans outside the school, which is closed and under heavy security, then headed toward the nearby British Embassy. They were stopped by security forces two blocks away from the embassy.
The protest arose despite vows by Sudanese security officials the day before, during Gibbons' trial, that threatened demonstrations after Friday prayers would not take place. Some of the protesters carried green banners with the name of the Society for Support of the Prophet Muhammad, a previously unknown group.
Many protesters carried clubs, knives and axes â but not automatic weapons, which some have brandished at past government-condoned demonstrations. That suggested Friday's rally was not organized by the government.
A Muslim cleric at Khartoum's main Martyrs Mosque denounced Gibbons during one sermon, saying she intentionally insulted Islam. He did not call for protests, however. "Imprisoning this lady does not satisfy the thirst of Muslims in Sudan. But we welcome imprisonment and expulsion," the cleric, Abdul-Jalil Nazeer al-Karouri, a well-known hard-liner, told worshippers. "This an arrogant woman who came to our country, cashing her salary in dollars, teaching our children hatred of our Prophet Muhammad," he said.
Britain, meanwhile, pursued diplomatic moves to free Gibbons....
Most Britons expressed shock at the verdict by a court in Khartoum, alongside hope it would not raise tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims in Britain....
They "streamed out of the mosques" with clubs and knives?? Yeah, that's some kind of peaceful religion they've got there.
Sudanese demonstrators burn a newspaper bearing the story and photo of Gillian Gibbons on its frontpage during a protest in Khartoum. Thousands of angry Sudanese, some brandishing swords, marched through the centre of Khartoum calling for the execution of a British woman teacher as she began a brief jail term for insulting Islam.(AFP/Isam Al Haj)
Meanwhile, in a Paris suburb:
"It feels like we live in a war zone," said NadÃ¨ge Tanier, a 40-year-old mother of two, as she walked by the burned-out hulk of a garbage truck still reeking of burned tires. "I feel safer for having all those cops on the streets and the helicopter at night making sure the kids are not planning more riots, but it sure is hard to live like this."
There is no curfew, but few people go out after dark, when rows of shielded riot police move in to take up positions around the town north of Paris. Buses, a popular target for youths with firebombs in the past, have stopped running in the early evenings, making it hard for people to come home from work. Many shops lock up hours before their normal closing time, partly for fear of vandalism, partly because few customers dare shop after dark.
.... Among the buildings that were torched Sunday and Monday was a complex housing a nursery school and a library with a children's section. The 135 children who are enrolled in the preschool had to be relocated to four makeshift classrooms in a nearby primary school. But the library, described by several parents here as a sort of community center for children, a refuge for those hungry to learn, is gone for now.
Do you want to live like that? I don't. I won't live like that. People had better hang on with both hands to whatever vestige of civilization they hold most dear - like your local nursery school or library or police station - because, as we're learning, you can't just take for granted that they're always going to be there.
You think things like this can't happen in America? I'd bet there are people in France who thought it couldn't happen there either.
Burnt benches, stools and chairs are seen in a damaged nursery school that was vandalized and set on fire in Villiers-le-Bel, a northern Paris suburb, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2007. Rioting in the tough suburbs of northern Paris took a dramatic and potentially deadly new turn with the use of firearms against police, officials said Tuesday.... (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)