This may be controversial, but I do not have a lot of sympathy for Gillian Gibbons, the British teacher detained in Sudan. I know that she is in prison for a misunderstanding and I know she meant no offence to Islam, but she has been very stupid.
The stupidity was not just in the naming of the bear. Having taught R.E. to year five children, I am aware that there should be no images of the prophet Mohammad. Yes, she may have named the bear after a boy, but I would have known not to do it just from my own knowledge of the RE syllabus. This was not in itself enough to see her locked up, and many moderate Muslims know that this has made the branch of Islam followed in Sudan make their religion rather unfairly look intolerent.
To my mind though the greater stupidity was instead choosing to go to a country run by a radical fundamentalist government and thinking that she was somehow going to be immune to the political game going on over Darfur. Her lack of knowledge about the Prophet gave the Sudanese an excuse, and they took it willingly.
It was clear to everyone after Gordon Brown announced correctly, in my opinion, that it was time for the world to take action against the brutal regime in Khartoum, that Sudan would look for a way, any way, to have a go back at Britain, and Miss Gibbons provided them with this opportunity.
I will probably be accused of being heartless, but when anybody does something stupid or dangerous, be it pot holing, white water rapids or backpacking across Afghanistan, I can admire their bravery, but when they get in to trouble, I really have very little sympathy for them. Its not like being in the army, which to my mind is real bravery because you are taking a risk because you are defending your country. No some people take risks because they need to spice up their lives. However, with all risks you are essentially playing Russian roulette and as with this risky game, some people lose out big time.
I am aware of the political lie of the land around the world because I watch the news, I read the internet, basically I am the sort of person who chooses to make himself aware of the risks. If Gillian Gibbons thought that somehow she was going to be immune from the world political situation because she was "doing good", then she needs to wake up and smell the coffee.
The truth of the matter is that we should all be aware of the countries it is safe to go to and where it is not safe. This is not just in terms of your personal safety, but also regarding how safe you are from the government. Would I trust the officials and governments of Russia, China, Iran, Venezuela, Sudan or Zimbabwe not to use me as a political pawn if they needed to score points against the UK government ? No I wouldn't.
I do hope the delegation of Muslim peers is successful in getting Miss Gibbons released. But If she had been less naive and more informed she would not have been there in the first place and even if she had been there, she might not have provided the Sudanese with an excuse in the first place.