It seems those peaceful, tolerant demonstrators calling for the death of teacher Gillian Gibbons were working for the Sudanese government:
The protesters, some carrying swords, screamed, “Shame, shame on the U.K.!” and, “Kill her, kill her by firing squad.”
They were calling for the death of Gillian Gibbons, the teacher who was sentenced Thursday to 15 days in jail. Under Sudanese law, she could have spent six months behind bars and received 40 lashes.
Despite the display of outrage, witnesses said that many of the protesters were government employees ordered to demonstrate, and that aside from a large gathering outside the presidential palace, most of Khartoum was quiet.
The article fairly points out that, while imams across the city denounced naming the toy "Muhammad," few called for the head of Ms. Gibbons. Still, their drawing of an equivalence between the name given a stuffed animal by children on the one hand and idolatry on the other is asinine. Nor, given events of recent years or the treatment of non-Islamic people under Islamic law, does this do anything to change my opinion of Islam as a tolerant religion.
This does throw another light on the affair, however. As the Times article points out, Gillian Gibbons may be a pawn in the chess game between the international community and Sudan over Sudanese depredations in Darfur:
It seems that Ms. Gibbons and the teddy bear became enmeshed in the larger struggle between the Sudanese government, which routinely accuses its Western critics of being anti-Islamic, and European and American officials pressing for an end to the crisis in Darfur.
In early November, Sudanese officials said that peacekeepers from Scandinavia could not serve in Darfur, the troubled region of western Sudan, because of a dispute two years ago, when several Scandinavian newspapers published caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.
United Nations officials have said that the Sudanese government was simply looking for ways to block or delay the deployment of an expanded peacekeeping force. This week, United Nations officials said that unless the Sudanese government started cooperating, the expanded mission might not be possible.
The Arab-dominated government of Sudan has been engaged in a genocidal pogrom against the Black African (and Muslim) population of Darfur for several years, now, using the Janjaweed militias as proxies. Faced with growing international pressure to accept a peacekeeping force, the government has agreed, but raises objection after objection to stall its implementation, as with the above-mentioned Scandinavian participation. If the Times article is correct, then Ms. Gibbons’ predicament is another attempt by the Islamist government of Sudan to play the "insult to Islam" card in order to work up popular sentiment against intervention in Darfur.
All it has done instead by picking on a middle-aged schoolteacher is to show its own barbaric nature and expose Islam to further opprobrium in the West.