UPDATE:: London’s Guardian suggests “a lobbyist – David Hoile -who works for the Sudanese government, was instrumental in trying to get the Sudanese PResident to grant Gibbons a pardon. His involvement in Gibbons’s case began the instant he heard of her arrest. He immediately flew to Khartoum to try to defuse the situation. An author of several books on Sudanese politics, Hoile has maintained strong contacts in that country’s government, chiefly with Ghazi Salahuddin, the President’s foreign policy adviser.
Send an international PR man to Khartoum. And quick. The decision by a Sudanese judge to jail a British teacher whose pupils innocently named the class teddy bear ‘Mohammed’, has done nowt but create an image-denting PR disaster for Sudan’s judiciary, the school the teacher worked at and the Islamic religion. Matronly teacher Gillian Gibbons is being harshly punished – for an oversight recognised by many as as a minor slight – by what some might see as the uncompassionate letter of religious law. Forget that it was her school charges who chose the prophet’s name for the teddy. More importantly, where’s the perspective and understanding in this case? Funnily enough, that’s precisely what international PR support would’ve offered the Sudanese govt – an independent perspective on the situ and seasoned understanding of how this incident would be exploited by international media, keen to prey on a story that sounds almost too farcical to be taken seriously. Maybe Sudan wanted to lash back at the Western community though?
The real damage hasn’t impacted on Gillian Gibbons – the case has (unfortunately) damaged the image of Islam (portraying it as zealously fundamental) among fair-minded audiences of most races, creeds and colours.