Sudanese Woman Defies Islamic Regime, Wears Pants to Court

July 29, 2009

(ChattahBox)—A Sudanese female journalist facing 40 lashes and a fine for violating the Islamic country’s strict decency laws by wearing pants in public, openly defied the regime’s strict interpretation of Sharia law, by wearing pants to her court hearing on Wednesday. In fact, she wore the exact same outfit she was arrested in of loose slacks, a loose tunic and a head scarf.

Lubna Ahmed al-Hussein is a well-known journalist in Sudan who works for the UN Mission in the media department and writes a weekly column in the left-leaning Al-Sahafa newspaper, founded by her late husband, where she is often critical of the regime of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

Hussein was arrested on July 3, while dining in a Khartoum restaurant with a group of friends. A gang of public order police “raided” the elegant restaurant, arresting Hussein and a dozen other women who were also wearing pants. Ten of the arrested women were summoned to appear at a police station two days later and flogged 10 times for their crime.

Hussein and two other women, obtained lawyers to fight the charges in court. Since Hussein is an employee of the UN, she could claim immunity from the charges, but instead decided to quit her job to contest a law she says discriminates against women. Her case was continued until Tuesday, to allow her time to quite her job with the UN.

Hussein explained on her Facebook that “The problem lies in Clause 152 of the criminal law, which sentences to 40 lashes or a fine, or both, for improper dress, without stipulating what exactly that is.”

Her defense lawyer, Nabil Adib Abdalla called Hussein’s fight against her arrest a “test case” for Sudan. Dozens of women, many dressed in pants, protested outside the courtroom in support of Hussein.

Hussein hopes to raise awareness of the brutal and barbaric practices of the Sudanese regime, which flogs hundreds of women every year, and perhaps more, for wearing “indecent” clothing in violation of the public decency laws.

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