Source AP ©

Teddy bear scandal in Sudan ends with pardon of British teacher

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Monday he was delighted by news that Sudan's president has pardoned British teacher Gillian Gibbons, who was jailed for allowing her class to name a teddy bear Muhammad.

"Common sense has prevailed," Brown said in a statement released by his office.

"She will be released into the care of our embassy in Khartoum after what must have been a difficult ordeal."

News of the pardon was also welcomed by Inayat Bunglawala, spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain.

"If it is confirmed, obviously this is wonderful news," Bunglawala said. "Gillian should never have been arrested in the first place, let alone held in jail. She had done nothing wrong.

"It will be wonderful to see her back in the U.K. I am sure she will be welcomed by both Muslims and non-Muslims after her quite terrible ordeal at the hands of the Sudanese authorities."

Sudan's ambassador in London, Khalid al-Mubarak, said he was "overjoyed" by the news.

"She is a teacher who went to teach our children English and she has helped a great deal and I am very grateful," al-Mubarak said.

"What has happened was a cultural misunderstanding, a minor one, and I hope she, her family and the British people won't be affected by what has happened."

Demonstrations in Khartoum on Friday, in which some participants called for Gibbons' execution, "were an argument from the fringe," al-Mubarak said.

Archbishop of York John Sentamu said Gibbons had been a victim of "misunderstanding and muddled thinking."

"For all of us the message must be for people to love the stranger in their community better - to treat them with the decency and respect that we would want them to afford to us," said Sentamu, the second-ranking leader of the Church of England.

"I also hope that the same media focus and energy given to Gillian's case may now be directed to helping those people in Darfur and pressure may be applied upon the president to ensure his own people are released from their suffering," Sentamu said.