KHARTOUM, Sudan - Thousands of Sudanese, many armed with clubs and knives, rallied Friday in a central square and demanded the execution of a British teacher convicted of insulting Islam for allowing her students to name a teddy bear "Muhammad."
What kind of vermin would call for the killing of a schoolteacher for committing a one-time inadvertent cultural faux pas?
The protesters streamed out of mosques after Friday sermons, as pickup trucks with loudspeakers blared messages against Gibbons, who was sentenced Thursday to 15 days in prison and deportation. She avoided the more serious punishment of 40 lashes.
They massed in central Martyrs Square outside the presidential palace, where hundreds of riot police were deployed. They did not try to stop the rally, which lasted about an hour.
"Shame, shame on the U.K.," protesters chanted.
They called for Gibbons' execution, saying, "No tolerance: Execution," and "Kill her, kill her by firing squad."
. . . . The protest arose despite vows by Sudanese security officials the day before, during Gibbons' trial, that threatened demonstrations after Friday prayers would not take place. Some of the protesters carried green banners with the name of the Society for Support of the Prophet Muhammad, a previously unknown group.
Many protesters carried clubs, knives and axes — but not automatic weapons, which some have brandished at past government-condoned demonstrations. That suggested Friday's rally was not organized by the government.
The Sudanese behind the protest are beneath contempt. They cannot make, or choose to ignore, the most elementary moral distinction there is -- between intentional wrongdoing and an inadvertent slight. Even a dog knows the difference between being stumbled over and being kicked.
There is no degree of reason or kindness that will placate this vicious lot. The Sudanese Islamists have justly earned their own misery by the evil they choose to do.
Update 2: I don't usually refer to people as vermin, but in this case I decided not to censor myself because the word fits. In fact, it may be too kind. It's an insult to the rats. I see that Riehl World View is on the same page, with "Allah's Angry Animals."
Update 3: More fitting remarks from Jimmie at The Sundries Shack, with "It is a Lovely Religion of Peace You Have There, Sir. Now Please Put Down the Machete"
Update 4: Linked at Memeorandum, where you'll find links to more blog entries commenting on this story.
Update 5: This is a message for Gillian Gibbons, which I feel I need to post despite the fact that it probably will not reach her (or will reach her only long after her return to the U.K.):
Mrs. Gibbons, you have been dealt a great injustice. Do not lose hope. People all around the world are praying for your safe return.
Update 6: An updated report from the Daily Mail ("I still cannot believe this is happening"):
The protests came as devastated Mrs Gibbons was allowed to phone her family in Liverpool for the first time since her ordeal began on Sunday.
Her son John, 25, said: "One of the things my mum said was 'I don't want any resentment towards Muslim people'. She's holding up quite well."
Earlier, during a visit from her lawyer, Mrs Gibbons described how her dream of working with children in Sudan had turned into a nightmare.
"I still cannot believe this," she said, "Never in my life would I have ever thought I would be accused of deliberately insulting someone or something. I am simply not like that.
The divorced mother of two, who began working in Khartoum in August, added: "I just feel so sad. I came to Sudan looking forward to things going smoothly and safely. Now it's all over for me and I will be sent home. It has been a nightmare.
"It was my dream to come here so why should I have come and then insulted Islam?
"If I was that type of person I would have never come in the first place or I could have done that sort of thing in London or Liverpool."