Thousands of Sudanese rally to free teddy-bear blasphemer -- wait, did I say free? I meant kill; Update: Protest photos added

Ah, Friday. The day of prayer.

Thousands of people have marched in the Sudanese capital Khartoum to call for UK teacher Gillian Gibbons to be shot…

The marchers took to the streets after Friday prayers to denounce the leniency of the sentence.

The protesters gathered in Martyrs Square, outside the presidential palace in the capital, many of them carrying knives and sticks.

Marchers chanted “Shame, shame on the UK”, “No tolerance – execution” and “Kill her, kill her by firing squad”.

Per the Daily Mail, the imams there are bandying about the name Rushdie to impress upon the faithful the magnitude of her sin. The Telegraph is more specific: “Sheikh Abdul Jalil Karuri, a leading cleric, whipped up a crowd attending at the city’s Martyr’s Mosque by telling them Gillian Gibbons had deliberately named her class’s teddy bear Mohammed “with the intention of insulting Islam.'” Meanwhile, I’m curious as to why there are no photos of this very angry, very photogenic mob on the wires. A dearth of photojournalists in Khartoum, perhaps? Government media blackout? Or, like Gillian Gibbons’s own son, are the news bureaus worried about protecting the, ahem, other victims here?

“I don’t want the verdict to lead to any anti feeling towards Muslims. Everyone has been very nice, but one of my fears, and I imagine my mother’s also, will be that this results in any sort of resentment towards Muslim people.”

The Muslim Council of Britain, for the record, railed against the verdict and the American Islamic Congress has been doing a bang-up job agitating on Gibbons’s behalf. There’s a hint in the Daily Mail piece that she might be released early, probably just to make this go away before it causes any more headaches internationally for the Sudanese government. Perhaps they’ll placate the mob by setting the janjaweed off on another round of merrymaking in Darfur.

Look on the bright side. She’s in for a big media payday once she gets back to the UK, assuming she makes it back. Exit question: How ’bout some British Muslim counterprotests, hey?

Update: Say what you will about these tactics but don’t say they don’t work.

Update: Here come the photos now. The guy with the giant sword is my favorite.