First Published: 2013-09-08


Muslim with no veil: Woman defies 'Taliban'-like law in Sudan


Activists say vaguely-worded law leaves women subject to police harassment and disproportionately targets poor.


Middle East Online

By Ian Timberlake KHARTOUM

Morality laws stifle freedoms in Sudan

A Sudanese woman says she is prepared to be flogged to defend the right to leave her hair uncovered in defiance of a "Taliban"-like law.

Amira Osman Hamed faces a possible whipping if convicted at a trial which could come on September 19.

Under Sudanese law her hair -- and that of all women -- is supposed to be covered with a "hijab" but Hamed, 35, refuses.

Her case has drawn support from civil rights activists and is the latest to highlight Sudan's series of laws governing morality which took effect after the 1989 Islamist-backed coup by President Omar al-Bashir.

"They want us to be like Taliban women," Hamed said in an interview, referring to the fundamentalist rebel movement in Afghanistan.

She is charged under Article 152 which prohibits "indecent" clothing.

Activists say the vaguely-worded law leaves women subject to police harassment and disproportionately targets the poor in an effort to maintain "public order".

Hamed said she was visiting a government office in Jebel Aulia, just outside Khartoum, on August 27 when a policeman aggressively told her to cover her head.

"He said, 'You are not Sudanese. What is your religion?'"

"I'm Sudanese. I'm Muslim, and I'm not going to cover my head," replied Hamed.

Her dark hair, tinged golden, is braided tight against her scalp with a flare of curls at the back.

In 2009 the case of Lubna Ahmed al-Hussein, a journalist, led to a global outcry and attention toward women's rights in Sudan.

Hussein was fined for wearing slacks in public but she refused to pay. She spent one day behind bars until the Sudanese Journalists' Union paid the fine on her behalf.

Others rounded up with her in a restaurant were flogged.


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