Sudan's top clerics have called for the full measure of the law to be used against Mrs Gibbons and labelled her actions part of a Western plot against Islam.
A Muslim youth organisation, the Ramadhan Foundation, called for Mrs Gibbons' immediate release.
Spokesman Mohammed Shafiq said: "This matter is not worthy of arrest or detention and her continued detention will not help repair the misconceptions about Islam."
However, since the hardliners are in control, the outcome was predictable: she's been charged with "insulting religion, inciting hatred and showing contempt for religious beliefs". The British government is not the only one outraged on Mrs. Gibbons behalf:
The Muslim Council of Britain reacted angrily to the news, saying it was "appalled" and demanded Mrs Gibbons' immediate release.
"This is a disgraceful decision and defies common sense. There was clearly no intention on the part of the teacher to deliberately insult the Islamic faith," said Secretary-General Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, in a strongly-worded statement.
"We call upon the Sudanese President, Omar al-Bashir, to intervene in this case without delay to ensure that Ms Gibbons is freed from this quite shameful ordeal," said Dr Bari.
The Sudanese ulema's rationale for throwing the book at Mrs. Gibbons reeks of paranoia and insecurity:
Earlier, the Sudanese Embassy in London said the situation was a "storm in a teacup" and signalled that the teacher could be released soon, attributing the incident to a cultural misunderstanding.
But Sudan's top clerics have called for the full measure of the law to be used against Mrs Gibbons and labelled her actions part of a Western plot against Islam.
"What has happened was not haphazard or carried out of ignorance, but rather a calculated action and another ring in the circles of plotting against Islam," the Sudanese Assembly of the Ulemas said in a statement.
This jibes well with Meph's analysis at 'Aqoul, who describes the Sudanese government thus:
the existing government in Sudan has always been prickly, obstreperous and wont to childish displays of inferiority complexes. This is partly rooted in deep insecurity and partly a hangover of the cynical anti-Western propaganda campaign the National Liberation Front employed for years in order to divert attention from its own lack of a political agenda and rally support for the war in the South. They need to be SEEN to be doing something as opposed to actually feeling strongly about the case. The overreaction stems from the government’s lack of touch with the national zeitgeist (the streets of Sudan have hardly been awash with protestors, and those that have showed up have strong affiliations with the government) as well as the miscalculation of how their display of standing up the big guy will be perceived in the West. Instead of coming across all Iran like, principled and not bowing down to the hegemony of the West (which is how the Sudanese government likes to perceive itself) the real perception is of a joke of a regime that really has no perspective.
Meph has actually lived in Sudan and observes that it's unlikely that the teacher's sentence of lashes will be carried out if convicted, as well as providing some context to the fracas:
there has always existed an uneasy truce between the highly Westernised elite that chose to send their children to the school and local government authorities who resented the very existence of such an elite and their access to the admittedly exceptional education the school offered. Were it not for the ironic fact that high ranking government officials mostly sent their children to the school, the co-existence would have been much more challenging.
There were several instances where expat teachers were be vaporised due to public displays of drunkenness. Parents who lapsed in their fee payments sometimes resorted to the local authorities to plead their case against the exorbitant unregulated fee structure and sometimes, managed to keep their children at the school by bullying the school administration which comprised mainly of British expats eager not to incur the wrath of the temperamental government. This background is important when judging the actions of the government as totally randomly barbaric.
The behavior of the Sudanese authorities may at best be characterized as pointedly barbaric, rather than randomly. Clearly, the very existence of the school itself - providing superior education and heavily used by government officials themselves - is the thorn in the side of the ulema, and Mrs. Gibons is simply a proxy for their ire.