On Teddy Bears and Tenderness

Gillian Gibbons, the British teacher in Sudan who was sentenced to 15 days in jail for allowing children to name a teddy bear “Mohammed”, was freed on Dec 3rd, after being held for 8 days. Under Sudanese law, the court could have sentenced her to as much as 40 lashes and 6 months in prison.  While there were scary, hateful people in the streets calling for her blood, it was obvious that the court itself did not relish the situation and was trying to find a middle way to appease the angry mobs while still upholding what is just.

In every country, there are always scary, hateful people.  It was comforting to see that the Sudanese legal system did not reflect that.

But what really touched me in all of this was the bravery shown by some of the Sudanese parents of the school kids, standing by Ms. Gibbons and testifying on her behalf  despite the angry furor, and the reaction of Gillian Gibbons herself.  She had every right to bear a grudge, yet in an interview after her release, there was no sign of resentment.  Only gratitude towards those who helped her.  She "praised the bravery of her pupils' parents who had volunteered to back her in court and thanked her teaching assistant who actually did so."

And went on to say that "The Sudanese people are wonderful, warm and generous people. You can't hold a whole nation to blame for the actions of a few."

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