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Teacher may be lashed over naming toy

By Times wires
Published November 29, 2007


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SUDAN

Teacher may be lashed over naming toy

The Sudanese government decided Wednesday to charge a British primary-school teacher with blasphemy, inciting hatred and insulting Islam after she allowed her 7-year-old students to name a class teddy bear Mohammed. Mohammed is a common name among Muslim men, but giving the prophet's name to an animal would be seen as insulting by many Muslims. The teacher, Gillian Gibbons, who taught at one of Sudan's most exclusive private schools, could be sentenced to six months and 40 lashes. "She will be brought in front of a judge, and now she must prove her innocence," said Rabie A. Atti, a government spokesman. Gibbons, 54, was arrested Sunday after some of her pupils' parents complained, accusing her of naming the bear after Islam's prophet.

MOSCOW

Voters pressured, say activists

Rights activists charged Wednesday that authorities were pressuring voters to cast ballots for the United Russia Party in Sunday's elections, and a communist leader said the campaign was the dirtiest he has ever seen. President Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, told foreign diplomats that the parliamentary elections would be honest and said Russia is firmly committed to democracy and human rights. Kremlin opponents said their campaigns have been subject to harassment, and activists said the pressure on voters means a free and fair election is impossible.

TEHRAN, Iran

Government claims advanced weapons

Iran claimed Wednesday to have built a small submarine equipped with sonar-evading technology. Official media said Iran's two domestically built submarines can fire missiles and torpedoes simultaneously but gave no information on the weapons' ranges. On Tuesday, Iran announced a new long-range missile. But many of Iran's weapons development claims are unverified, and analysts are skeptical of its claims.

NUGEGODA, Sri Lanka

Bomb kills 17, separatists blamed

Ethnic Tamil separatists set off a bomb at a popular department store in a suburb of the capital Wednesday, killing 17 people in a rare attack targeting civilians, the Sri Lankan military said. The blast, which came just hours after a suicide bomber tried to kill a Cabinet minister, showed that the Tamil Tiger rebels are still capable of striking deep in government territory despite months of military attacks on their power base in the north.

ABU DHABI

Hungry baboons invade the capital

Wild baboons have invaded a district in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, making the residents' lives a misery, the Al-Watan newspaper said Wednesday. The baboons took up residence in an abandoned building about a month ago and started raiding a local market in search for food. Locals also complain that they harass children and scatter litter from garbage cans. The creatures, whose natural habitat lies in mountains to the south, are attracted by garbage in the city.

BAD AROLSEN, GERMANY

Nazi archives opened to public

After more than 60 years, Nazi documents stored in a vast warehouse here were unsealed Wednesday. The files are entrusted to an arm of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

[Last modified November 29, 2007, 02:29:01]


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