Millennium Post

Rising with uprising

Anti-government protests had been building up since the end of 2018 in Sudan due to growing unrest with the state. Furious demonstrators called for President Omar al-Bashir to step down for pressing public concerns such as sharply rising food prices, the increasing cost of living, and economic mismanagement that have essentially spurred the uprising against the incumbent President. Omar al-Bashir has been reigning since 1989, and for years together, the International Criminal Court has had a warrant out for his arrest for charges such as crime against humanity and genocide. Al-Bashir has the protective backing Sudan's military and a prominent aspect of the protest is chants directed towards the Sudanese military - "Sudan is rising, the army is rising," crowds called out. Assembled outside the Presidential palace and the military headquarters, braving tear gas and some skirmishes with the security forces, protesters asserted unabated their demand for the President to descend.

The most striking image of this uprising that admiringly caught the eyes of the world at large was that of a young woman clad in very specific attire, standing atop a car in the centre of a swarm of protesting public, her arm raised and a finger sharply pointing forward, chanting "thowra!"— Arabic for revolution. Her deliberated protest is symbolic of a lot of common elements of the Sudanese people. Identified by some sources as Alaa Salah, the 22-year-old engineering and architecture student has become the face of women of Sudan who have been at the forefront of the extensive protest. Oppressed with restrictive laws dictating personal choices including what they to wear and where to go, the lives of women have changed fundamentally in the past decades."They were criminalised for just being themselves, they were criticised for wearing pants, their lives have been threatened," says Hala Al-Karib, a Sudanese women's rights activist with the Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa. Al-Karib explains the phenomenon of Alaa Salah as telling the story of Sudanese women – the moment they have been waiting for the past thirty years. It is interesting to understand her outfit which is an introduction of the message she intended to convey: The white cotton robe she donned is worn by professional Sudanese women in the workforce (symbolising the identity of a working woman – a Sudanese woman free and capable of doing anything but who still appreciates her culture); her large, circular gold earring that all Sudanese women possess, possibly from the family heirloom; she has an older version of the Sudanese flag painted on her right cheek. Al-Karib speculated that she may have drawn inspiration from celebrated heroines from Sudan's past, such as Mihera bint Abboud, a poet and warrior who led men in a fight against the Turkish-Egyptian invasion in the early 19th century.

As Sudan unwaveringly marches towards its aim to rid the state of the oppressive President, Algeria, very recently has also successfully ousted their expired President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Algerians did this remarkably without getting into conflict with the military (which also backed Bouteflika) and arriving at a decision and averting any situation of a civil war which would have been otherwise likely. Protests essentially speak of the glitches in methods of governance and protesting citizens must be heard and appeased fairly. Quelling protests solves no problems. The only right thing is to settle the unrest for the well-being of people.

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