A British teacher based in Sudan was found guilty on Thursday of insulting Islam and was sentenced to 15 days imprisonment for naming a teddy bear Mohammed, British authorities reported.
Gillian Gibbons, 54, had faced a maximum of six months in prison and 40 body lashes under Sudanese law, according to the Foreign Office, which expressed Britain's dissatisfaction with the verdict. The teacher will also be deported from Sudan once her prison term is up.
We are extremely disappointed that the charges against Gillian Gibbons were not dismissed, Foreign Secretary David Miliband said in a statement issued shortly after the verdict was announced.
As I said this morning, our clear view is that this is an innocent misunderstanding by a dedicated teacher. I have called in the Sudanese ambassador, Omer Siddig, this evening to explain the decision and discuss next steps, Miliband added.
In what started out as a project in one of Sudan's most exclusive private schools, Gibbons asked her class of 7-year-olds in Khartoum to pick their favorite name for the new class mascot. The teddy was planned be used to aid lessons about animals and their habitats. Sudanese government said it was insulting to name a teddy bear after the Islamic Prophet Mohammed.
Gibbons was not convicted of two other charges brought against her - inciting hatred and showing contempt for Islamic religious beliefs.
The trial began on Thursday in a Khartoum courtroom that was under heavy security. After Gibbons spent all day there, the verdict was announced after 9 p.m. local time.
Sensitivity surrounding depictions of Islam's Prophet Mohammed has been a controversial issue in recent times.
In Denmark last year, a newspaper editor was fired after allowing cartoon drawings of the Prophet to be printed, a move which triggered an uproar among some Muslims.