Sudanese UN Employee asks for “40,000” lashes for wearing pants

I have a new personal hero…and her name is Lubna Ahmed al-Hussein.  Who is she?  A Sudanese journalist affiliated with the United Nations Mission in Sudan.  Why is she heroic?  Last month, Lubna had the temerity to wear pants while out with a few friends at a restaurant in Khartoum.  She now faces 40 lashes for the “offense.”    But rather than going quietly, Lubna is using her case to fight the system. And by all accounts, she has been quite media-savvy in doing so.  The Sydney Morning Herald scored an interview with Lubna.

“If I’m sentenced to be whipped, or to anything else, I will appeal. I will see it through to the end, to the constitutional court if necessary,” Hussein said.

“And if the constitutional court says the law is constitutional, I’m ready to be whipped not 40 but 40,000 times.”

Hussein invited scores of journalists to her first court hearing on Wednesday, when she made a point of wearing the same clothes she wore when she was arrested – moss-green slacks with a loose floral top and green headscarf.

Hordes of people, many of them female supporters and some also wearing trousers out of solidarity, crammed into the courthouse for the hearing.

“My main objective is to get rid of Article 152,” Hussein said. “This article is against both the constitution and sharia [the Islamic law ruling northern Sudan].”

Via Global Voices Online, it seems that some of the reporters attending the case were detained.  And police fired tear gas at those outside the courtroom.  According to the Arab Network for Human Rights Information

While covering the trial, the Sudanese police detained the correspondents of Reuters and Alhurra channels and Al Midan and Ajras Al Horreya Sudanese papers. The police confiscated the notebook and recorder of Abd Al Kader Mohamed of Al Midan’s.

Lubna refused the compromise of Mohi El Din Titawi, Sudanese Reporters union Head, to close the case versus a promise that she will not dress up in that manner once more. Lubna also refused a presidential pardon among three women who were prosecuted by the public discipline authority.

The case was adjourned until later this week.  We’ll be sure to follow Lubna’s story.