Gillian Gibbons, the woman jailed in Sudan for allowing her students to name a teddy bear Muhammed, has been pardoned by the Sudanese president. That’s a relief, but to call it a pardon makes it seem like she really did something to be pardoned for.
“This case has done quite a bit of damage to how the Sudanese government will be perceived; they have done their country no favors,” said Inayat Bunglawala, spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain, the county’s largest Muslim organization. He called the Gibbon’s release “wonderful news.”
British Muslim groups spoke out strongly in favor of Gibbons and said the Sudanese government’s actions in the case have created greater misunderstandings about Islam.
“This has certainly given ammunition to those who never miss an opportunity to portray Muslims as intolerant,” Bunglawala said. “We only hope that the actions of Lord Ahmed and Baroness Warsi and the whole British Muslim community can mitigate against the damage done by the Sudanese authorities.”
I guess there is an upside to this after all. By speaking out forcefully against what happened the Muslim community will put a dent in the perception, held by way too many people, that extremism is a facet of Islam itself.