November 29th, 2007
11:30 PM ET

Follow-up: British Teacher in Sudan

Friday's show updated you on the British schoolteacher who was arrested in Sudan for letting her 7-year-old students name a class teddy bear "Mohammed":  Gillian Gibbons was found guilty of insulting religion and sentenced to 15 days in prison.  Her lawyer says she will be forced to leave Sudan afterward.

It wasn't as severe a sentence as she could've received, but we'd like to know what you thought of it...

Filed under: News Coverage
soundoff (76 Responses)
  1. Hannah

    I know that most people think that it is ridiculous to jail someone for naming a teddy bear Mohammed, and to us it is, but you have to look at it from the Sudan civilians’ point of view: Mohammed is someone they revere and consider in the greatest importance. It’s the same as naming a teddy bear “Jesus” or “God” here. Even if the child who named it is four, it’s still frowned upon. I’m not saying it was excusable for that teacher to be put in jail–she didn’t know, and that’s a little harsh—but I’m just pointing out that their case is not as crazy as everyone seems to think it is.

    November 30, 2007 at 9:16 am |
  2. Phil

    This is ridiculous! It is just a teddy bear named Mohammed. I don't see how this was insulting muslims at all. You don't see people being thrown out of America for naming a teddy bear Jesus. I think that Sudan's government is taking this WAY to seriously.

    November 30, 2007 at 9:21 am |
  3. Jennie

    Dear Carl Azuz

    I think that the teacher Gillian Gibbons was just trying to teach the kids democracy and when the chose to name the teddy bear name Mohammad that it was not her fault. The kids chose the name and she just went along with the name. I don’t think that she had any idea that she was insulting a religion. I think that it is good they are only putting her in jail for 15 days instead of a year or 40 lashes.

    I think the best punishment would be to just fire her from her job as a school teacher in Sudan. I feel really bad for her since it is not he fault when she didn’t know she was insulting anyone. I think she should have found out who Muhammad was right when they named him that since Muhammad does not seem like a little teddy bear name like Fuzzy or something like that.

    By the way I love your show on CNN my teacher Ms. Farrell the journalism teacher has us watch it everyday!


    November 30, 2007 at 9:27 am |
  4. Devon

    Keeping a teacher in prison for 15 days? What were they thinking? Sudan is a Muslim country, why do they care if she allowed the teddy bear to be named Muhammad? She was lucky that she didn’t have to stay there for a year though. Capital punishments shouldn’t be used in government at all, ether, or any kinds of torture. 17 lashes with a whip could have, maybe, killed her. What is her classes’ response to her being arrested; after all they did name it, not her. Did they do anything about it? They should feel very guilty.

    November 30, 2007 at 9:27 am |
  5. Jennifer

    Last week, a British teacher who was in Sudan was arrested for letting a class of seventh year olds name that class bear “Mohammed”. The teacher was found guilty for insulting religion, and the penalty is serving up to a year in jail or receiving 40 lashes. The teacher ended up getting a less severe sentence consisting of 15 days in Jail and being forced to leave Sudan when her jail time is up. I think this is ridiculous, I’m sure she never meant to insult their religion, and it’s not her fault if a class of seven year-olds name the class bear Mohammed. Also, I think it is very cruel and unusual that she could have possible had to have 40 lashes.

    November 30, 2007 at 10:22 am |
  6. Kate

    Dear Carl,

    I couldn’t believe that the teacher in Sudan could have been whipped 40 TIMES! I don’t think that she should be punished because I don’t think that she knew that, Mohammed was their sacred prophet and plus, the kids chose the name! She didn’t choose it. The children probably knew that it was a sacred name and they still chose it. Why weren’t they punished in some way? Not being sentenced to jail or getting lashes, but a suspension wouldn’t hurt!
    I don’t think that it was right to do that and the teacher was just visiting there. How can they punish her? And the protesters want the “TEDDY BEAR TEACHER” (as they call her) executed!? Now, THAT’S UNFAIR! It’s just a stuffed, cuddly TEDDY BEAR!

    p.s. You're great in CNN student news!

    November 30, 2007 at 10:23 am |
  7. Allie

    I think that the teacher who was charged for fifteen days in prison should no have been punished, because the kids named the bear, not her. Why are the parents mad at her when the children decided on the name? The choices of punishment that they gave her are terrible. Forty lashings are not a way to discipline someone. If you name a teddy bear Muhammad, it doesn’t mean that you were disrespecting a religion in any way. If I were her, I would definitely be angry. To do such a little thing like that does not deserve punishment. I hope that the people who punished her feel bad about it.

    November 30, 2007 at 10:24 am |
  8. Ashley

    Last week a woman was sent to jail for naming a teddy bear. Seriously? I can just see her in the jail house “hey what are you in for” then the teacher would say “My first grade class named a teddy bear Mahmud.” I don't know why anyone would get put in jail for that. The kids chose the name; they might as well go to jail right now. An entire class of first graders in the big house, sound ridiculous? Well it is about as crazy as the teacher getting out in there when it really is, in a way the kids’ fault if you think about it. To sum it all up no one should go to jail because of a teddy bear.

    November 30, 2007 at 10:24 am |
  9. Shannon

    When I found out it a British Teacher was jailed because her class chose a name for a teddy bear because they thought it was insult to the countries religion I was SO mad. Why would any one do anything like that, sending a teacher to jail because of a name for a teddy bear! I mean it was just a teddy bear! The students are the ones who named the bear yet the teacher is in trouble! I really think that she shouldn’t have been put in jail even for a day! I think that the Sudan Court is really unfair.

    November 30, 2007 at 10:25 am |
  10. Win

    I think that the teacher should not be put in jail at all. The students voted on the name for the teddy bear’s name and she just went along with it. I’ve heard that Muhammad is a popular name in Sudan. She didn’t intend it to be an insult to that religion. That is why America is awesome, freedom of religion. The people (the school children) voted on the name it had nothing to do with the teacher I think that the Sudan government need to rethink there way of thinking. The teacher was naming a teddy bear, I would like to have a teddy bear named after me.

    November 30, 2007 at 10:26 am |
  11. Grace

    The people thought it was insulting to their country and religion. She didn’t know that it was insulting and she didn’t mean it. I think that it ridiculous that the court put her in jail for something as outlandish as this. She didn’t know that the name was a religious name and besides 7-year-old kids chose the name, she just went along with it. This is just one case of many that have probably been taken out of hand.

    November 30, 2007 at 10:26 am |
  12. Dana

    I think that Gillian Gibbons is lucky for the sentence she go. People in Sudan are very confident about their religion, if something like that happened to me, I would be offended. I do feel bad however than she was in an inhumane country where they give people lashings like that. Before going into the country I think she should have considered the culture shock. Something like this probably shocked Sudan so I completely agree with having her stay in prison for about 2 weeks, and then leaving the country. Gillian Gibbons should feel lucky about her sentence when thing could have been a lot harsher.

    November 30, 2007 at 10:27 am |
  13. jackdaru33

    I noticed today on the news that the British schoolteacher was sentenced to 15 days in prison. That is much better then getting forty lashes across her back. There are some "crimes" thats are unreasonable. Calling a teddy bear "Mohammed" is not a serious crime. After talking to her, they should know that she did't mean any harm to anyone. To even consider the thought of lashing her is horrible. She should be grateful that she is only spending 15 days in prison.

    November 30, 2007 at 10:31 am |
  14. Hannah

    Hey Carl thats whack news, yo!
    Sharia law is ridiculous, they have an educator come from half way around the world and sentence her to 15 days in jail for an innocent naming of a teddy bear? She was teaching the students an important lesson about voting, the children and her probably wouldn't have known that they would have been so sensitive about that. Why is it okay if a person, who could be a horrible person thus being an insult to the "prophet" but not an innocent teddy bear? Anyway, I gtg. I love you Carl!

    November 30, 2007 at 10:34 am |
  15. Michael

    i think its stupid because she was a new teacher in a new area you can't expect to know all the rules and beliefs in a few short months

    November 30, 2007 at 10:38 am |
  16. Jenn

    I can not believe they put that woman in jail for naming a teddy bear. All she was doing was teaching her class what a democracy; the children probably didn’t even know what the name meant. I do not believe in punishing some one for not doing anything wrong. She had come to that country to teach students about different subjects not religion. That was obviously not her purpose to name a teddy bear after a trade. It is what the children decided on, so it is not her fault. I hope that the country does things different from now on knowing what gossip it will cause.

    November 30, 2007 at 4:37 pm |
  17. Kevin C

    Although it seems crazy to us, this is the law over there, and many of us are forgetting it. If she was prosecuted to the full extent of the law, it would have been much worse. I don't agree with the punishment, but its not a fair point of view. Because of the laws that they have there, she should consider herself lucky, as 15 days isn't that bad.

    November 30, 2007 at 7:00 pm |
  18. Thomas

    I think that it,s wrong for her to be arrested. Wouldn't the kids also get in trouble?

    December 1, 2007 at 2:19 pm |
  19. Sam

    I think that it’s amazing and unreasonable, that the civilians of Sudan believed that Gillian Gibbons purposely insulted the founder of their city, by simply having the children of her class name a teddy bear. Gillian Gibbons did not chose the name of the teddy bear, the children in her class did, and why would any child insult their own religion, so none of this is her fault. Gillian Gibbon’s prosecution is ridiculous and they should let her go with no harm done.

    December 1, 2007 at 4:49 pm |
  20. Forrest

    I don't think the teacher should have been thrown in jail for somthing as simple as naming a teddy bear Mohammed. Many kids in muslim countries name's are Mohammed. So if the kids named the teddy bear then why had the church failed to teach them not to name things Mohammed? Why is it just the teacher who is being singled out?

    December 2, 2007 at 6:36 pm |
  21. Orrin

    I think the punishment for the teacher was reasonable. Many people say it wasn't because she didnt know. The punishment wasn't near as bad as what it possibly could have been. Wouldn't the kids know better than to name it that, being their religion?

    December 3, 2007 at 1:02 am |
  22. saul

    Thats not fair becaus she was just letting kids name A teddy bear she should of not went to jail so STOP.

    December 3, 2007 at 11:11 am |
  23. johnathan

    Thats not fair because she was just letting kids name a teddy bear she should of not went to jail so STOP.

    December 3, 2007 at 11:12 am |
  24. jonathan

    I think it was a honest mistake that her and her class named named a teddy bear mohammed a prophet

    December 3, 2007 at 11:14 am |
  25. Vanessa

    I think is fare beacuse thats like something special for that culture & that teddy bear is a tradition for them they even gave a name to it is "mohammed" and it's good that shes arrested for 15 days beacuse thats tthe only thing they had that is gold.

    December 3, 2007 at 11:15 am |
  26. Kayla

    Dear CNN,

    CNN news is cool this week I like the Santa race. Minnesota has alot of


    December 3, 2007 at 11:16 am |
  27. Tyler

    I think that she should have read the laws better.She needs to go to jail for 20 days for making her students name a teddy bear Mohammed.If she didnt make her students name the bear she whould not have to go to jail but if she made the students name the teddy bear how come the students dont go to jail.

    December 3, 2007 at 11:18 am |
  28. michael

    Dear CNN, I liked your show. I think it was good and i finally got the shoutout right! I think the snow storm report because i like snow. I can't believe it snowed that bad in Minnesota. Sinceraly,
    Michael and Justin

    December 3, 2007 at 11:18 am |
  29. kailey

    dear. Carl

    I dont think that the teacher should be sent to jail ,because it is not her fault that her kids named the teddy bear after a prophet.the teacher was just bing nice to her students by leting them name a teddy bear. I think the students should be suspended.

    p.s.- I finaly got the shoutout right. (pleas read on air) have a great day

    December 3, 2007 at 11:19 am |
  30. Joseph

    when I heard about what happened to the Britsh teacher in Sudan, it's not like she did anything bad like hit the kids or do something that would hurt them.

    December 3, 2007 at 11:20 am |
  31. jeremiah

    I think she should do the time but not have to Leave sudan

    December 3, 2007 at 3:06 pm |

    I think it is really really dumb for getting treated poorly and for getting put in jail she`s from another country and doesn`t know nothing really

    December 3, 2007 at 3:07 pm |
  33. madi

    Its sads that shes in jail,but its her own fault that she didn't learn their culture and religon before entering Sudan.I mean you wouldn't enter a foreign country without learning about it first!!!!

    December 3, 2007 at 5:06 pm |
  34. gary

    I think that arresting her was not her fault. She didn't know that that was a law and getting 40 lashes for it even though she didn't is pretty harsh.

    December 3, 2007 at 8:17 pm |
  35. Abby

    The teaacher did not know any better. She did not know that Mohammed was such an honored name. The kids were only seven and didn't know any better themselves. To them a teddy bear is so cool. The Sudan government should realize this and let her go.

    December 3, 2007 at 8:18 pm |
  36. Jordan

    Well, I can see why she was punished for what she did. Sudan, as well as many other foreign countries, have strict rules about religion. What she did was probably seen as disrespectful to the Islamic prophet. But, I think other countries need to have more freedom of religion. They also need to see that what she did was not done out of hate, just a misunderstanding.

    December 3, 2007 at 9:58 pm |
  37. Steven

    I don't think that the teacher should get persecuted for calling a bear after a religon that she problby never head of.

    December 4, 2007 at 11:25 am |
  38. joshua

    dear carl azuz

    I think that it shouldn't be a religious insult because then Mohhammed {the student} problably would be a religious insult. the probably haven't thought that over.
    Besides it just a teddy bear who cares, that is like naming a teddy bear "God".
    It was smart that the Sudan president drafted her sentence because it was a dumb reason.
    Mrs Fishers class

    December 4, 2007 at 11:25 am |
  39. @lec

    I think she should have to know the laws before she go's to the country.if she would of known the laws this would'nt happen.I think she deserves a bigger sentence like 1-2 years.

    December 4, 2007 at 11:26 am |
  40. Ariel from Baker 6th grade

    I dont think that it was fair for her to get a penalty because she didnt really do anything wrong it's just a name. I name my stuffed animals names too but, that doesnt mean i'm going to get arrested. Plus the students actually named the bear so she shouldnt get a penalty. she also probably didnt know.

    December 4, 2007 at 11:28 am |
  41. alana from baker 6th grade

    i think that when her class named that bear mohamed. she should have known that naming that bear that name was not a normal name for a teddy bear she should have known that this was going to happen she is a teacher. teachers are suppost to know alot

    December 4, 2007 at 11:30 am |
  42. Moli

    I’m glad she has been released. I mean what was the big deal it was just a teddy bear and an innocent school project. Besides she didn’t know! It was a huge misunderstanding and I’m glad that her case has been reconsidered and she has been released.

    – Moli

    December 4, 2007 at 2:19 pm |
  43. sophie

    This is absoloutly ridiculous. She had no idea, and it is entirley the childrens fault. I think the chirldren should be given a long lecture on how this is not a practical joke and it is not a laughing matter. I can see why she was punished but Sudan has very strict rules about their religion. I think this is all blown out of proportion.I mean, whats done is whats done, but its not fair.
    xoxo, sophie

    December 4, 2007 at 2:20 pm |
  44. ♥Kari

    Technically, the teacher SHOULDN’T have gone to jail. She wasn’t the one who named the teddy bear. Since, the class named it Mohammed because of the most popular guy in the class. Even though, she DID agree to name the teddy bear that, she DIDN’T know that it was named after the prophet so loved in Sudan, because she is from Britain. The teacher was just being nice to her students by letting them name the class teddy bear…it’s just a teddy bear.

    December 4, 2007 at 2:20 pm |
  45. Ashlee

    I think that she should have known about the consequences. I don’t think she should have been put in jail that long, but I don’t know how other people felt about this. Hopefully this whole thing will be solved and forgotten. I hope that she does get her job back. I feel really bad for her because she didn't know the trouble she was getting into.

    December 4, 2007 at 2:21 pm |
  46. Matthew

    Though the name of the teddy bear is the prophet's name, but it is unfair for the British teacher because she didn't know about it. I think the government in Sudan made a right choice.

    December 4, 2007 at 2:22 pm |
  47. B

    I think it was a silly mistake and people in Sudan should understand it is not her fault.

    December 4, 2007 at 2:25 pm |
  48. Natalie

    I understand why the people of Sudan were angry over her naming a teddy bear Mohammed, because Mohammed is sacred to them and they thought this was disrespectful and she should have learned the culture and religion before she moved to Sudan. But, I think that it was ridiculous that they wanted to put her in jail. She didn’t intend to be disrespectful, she just asked the children what name, and they chose Mohammed.

    December 4, 2007 at 2:28 pm |
  49. Sarah

    I think it’s ridiculous to put someone in jail or give them 40 lashes just because she let a bunch of 7 year-olds name a teddy bear Mohammed. It makes no sense. I understand that it’s against their religion, but that’s no reason to put someone in jail. I don’t understand why people get all uptight about what people do, especially if those people don’t believe in the same things they do. It just doesn’t make sense.

    December 4, 2007 at 2:32 pm |
  50. sina :(

    It is a bit unfair to the teacher, because she is not familiar to the Islamic religion. But, if the students in that class knew about the prophet and that naming the teady bear Muhammad was making fun of the prophet, then they should have told her.

    December 4, 2007 at 2:32 pm |
  51. Nick

    I understand the story but what I don’t understand is why did it take so long for her to be released and why was she jailed if the students came up with the name? I think a few questions still linger.

    December 4, 2007 at 2:33 pm |
  52. Matthew

    i cant bleaive they would wnt to exicute here give me a break it just a dumb teddy bear the musums need to calm down. its not a big deal at all AT ALL the neeeeed to calm down and stop getting all mad about somthing that makes no sence in the first place. i dont get mad what people draw jeusus or when the name there kid jeasus. by they way u da man carl

    December 4, 2007 at 2:38 pm |
  53. Elizabeth C.

    I have two points of view on this situation. First, I think it completely unfair that she went to jail for naming a teddy bear “Mohammad.” But, I also understand why she got in trouble but I don’t agree on her punishment. Mohammad is very important to the Muslim religion, and she should not have named the teddy bear that. But, I don’t think she should have had to go to jail and leave the country.

    December 4, 2007 at 2:38 pm |
  54. Adrian

    It is definitely not the teacher’s fault that the students chose to name the teddy bear Mohammed. The kids obviously weren’t trying to disrespect the religion and the teacher was just trying to let the students have a fun activity. I think that the people of Sudan took it way too seriously. She didn’t know any better and I think she shouldn’t have been punished at all.

    December 4, 2007 at 2:46 pm |
  55. seth

    i say they should have droped the charges and let them name the bear what evre they want to !

    December 4, 2007 at 2:51 pm |
  56. jason

    that is not fair thay shoule be able to name him what ever thay want to beacuse
    there is no law about it.

    December 4, 2007 at 3:02 pm |
  57. Mrs. Fisher from Baker 6th Grade

    My class has found this news to be very interesting because we are studying world religions. We found this to be a great example of how not understanding others' religious beliefs could lead to grave misunderstandings. We feel that the teacher was treated unfairly and that her intention was not to insult religion.

    December 4, 2007 at 4:23 pm |
  58. Corby

    i think she shouldnt go tojail for that they should had out rule books when new people come to that countrybut they shouldnt put her in jailfor that she had no clue what she was doing

    December 4, 2007 at 4:56 pm |
  59. David

    I think it was wrong that the kids did something and the teacher got in trouble for .Also the students lived there longer so they should not have picked that name for the teddy bear but also the kids would have known not to tell there parent or gaurdian.So I think it was the kids fault that the spent time in jail so if she were to stay I think she would quit teaching so she doesn't have a bigger risk of getting in trouble with the law.The did nothing wrong so why should she get in trouble the kids did it so she knows she did nothing wrong

    December 4, 2007 at 4:59 pm |
  60. Zyle

    When I found out it a British Teacher was jailed because her class chose a name for a teddy bear because they thought it was insult to the countries religion I was surprized. Why would any one do anything like that, sending a teacher to jail because of a name for a teddy bear! I mean it was just a teddy bear! The students are the ones who named the bear yet the teacher is in trouble! I really think that she shouldn’t have been put in jail at all. I think that the Sudan Court is unfair.

    December 6, 2007 at 12:40 pm |
  61. Usef

    i would like to congradulate the sudaneze courts for being inconsiderate, and very harsh for something that isn't really a big deal.

    December 6, 2007 at 12:42 pm |
  62. ffnerrr

    i think its stupid that she got arrested cause of a name. If every body got arrested for useing jesus name all the time why is his name out there. I dont understand if its a common name there y cant they use it? i dont think she should have got arrested for useing the name.

    December 7, 2007 at 11:51 am |
  63. Ryan

    I think that this whole situation was blow way out of proportion. The fact of the matter was that a teacher named a teddy bear after the profit, Mohamed. It was a harmless act that meant no offense to Mohamed or his followers. We must also understand that because we come from a more privileged country, we have more rights, like the freedom of speech. But because their right to speech is retarded by slanderous acts towards their religion, she was arrested, even though she meant no offense.

    December 10, 2007 at 12:33 pm |
  64. courtney from baker 6th grade

    I think that Gillian Gibbons shoudn't of went to jail because she didn't name the teddy bear Mohammed after the most popular boy in there class. she certinly didn't know!!!

    December 11, 2007 at 11:08 am |
  65. hailey baker sixth grade

    I think thats really unfair because its juct a teddy bear they should leave that alone!

    December 11, 2007 at 3:00 pm |
  66. Theresa

    its not fair its just for a teddy bear

    December 11, 2007 at 3:03 pm |
  67. efrain

    i can't belife that all this comotion over naming a stufed bear.she din't now let her out of prison

    December 11, 2007 at 4:31 pm |
  68. Anonymous

    that is wrong realy wrong

    December 11, 2007 at 4:33 pm |
  69. April

    You shoulde'nt put her in prision becouse she only let a student pick a name for ateddy bear.

    December 11, 2007 at 4:37 pm |
  70. Bailey

    I think that that is a stupid thing to arrest a teacher for that! the child is only 7 years old the child should be able to name it what ever it wants!!!!!!!

    December 12, 2007 at 11:44 am |
  71. Jordan

    I thin that the teacher should of learned the culture before she went into the country. Also the childern should have know before naming it.

    December 12, 2007 at 8:57 pm |
  72. Megs

    I think the punishment the teacher received was kind of unreasonable. She wasn't from the area and didn't know better. You would also think that the kids would have known better since it's their own religion and their own country. I guess the punishment could have been worse like the 40 lashes. I guess you just have to be careful when you travel to foreign countries. You should know they have different rules and that you will be punished according to their courts.

    December 12, 2007 at 8:58 pm |
  73. Zach

    Id like to say that all of those extremist muslims need to calm down. they shouldnt take some things so seriously. its just a name for goodness sake. and if the kids were muslim and they named the bear Muhammed shouldt it be thier fault? if thier parents didnt want them using the name Muhammed on something like a teddy bear they should have told them.

    December 13, 2007 at 3:35 pm |
  74. Kaila

    I think that the teachers that are being very mean should not be a teachers because a lot of kids like school and they want to have a good day and if there teachers are mean they will have a mad day and i think that they would not like that.

    December 14, 2007 at 12:48 pm |
  75. julia

    I think she shouldn't have any punishment because she didn't chose the name for the bear and anyways IT'S JUST A BEAR!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 14, 2007 at 5:04 pm |
  76. jacob

    The funniest video was the boy with the python.

    December 18, 2007 at 12:16 pm |