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British Muslim Peers in Sudan to Appeal for Jailed Teacher

Two Islamic members of Britain's upper house of Parliament are in Sudan to secure the release of a British teacher convicted of insulting Islam.

Lord Ahmed and Baroness Sayeeda Warsi arrived in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum Saturday on behalf of Gillian Gibbons. The British Embassy says the two are undertaking the mission on their own initiative.

The 54-year-old teacher was sentenced Thursday to 15 days in prison, to be followed by deportation from Sudan.

The teacher had asked her class of seven-year-olds to write an imaginary diary for a teddy bear, as a writing exercise. The children decided to name the bear Muhammad, which is a common name for men in Sudan, as well as the name of the Islamic prophet.

Thousands of Sudanese marched through the streets of Khartoum Friday, demanding Gibbons be put to death.

British Embassy officials say they were allowed to see Gibbons Friday, and they say she is doing well. Her exact location is being kept secret out of concern about the protests.

Gibbons could have faced a maximum sentence of 40 lashes, six months in jail and a fine.

Her son told the Associated Press that he spoke with his mother Friday by phone and she appealed for tolerance. He said Gibbons does not want anyone to have any resentment towards Muslims.

Britain's foreign secretary, David Miliband, says the incident is clearly an "innocent misunderstanding by a dedicated teacher," and he called on the Sudanese ambassador to explain the court's action.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.