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president ousted after women-led #sudanprotest leader goes viral

April 11, 2019
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The streets of Sudan are filled with restless Sudanese crowds led by a 22-year-old Sudanese University student Alaa Salaah. The demonstrations have been building up since late 2018 but a viral image of Salaah addressing crowds while on top of a car captured people across the world, bringing the movement against Sudanese president Omar Hassan al-Bashir. Salaah is a vision in a white dress, hovering above the crowd as she chants to keep them engaged while they hold up their phones as a permanent witness to this moment.

Lana H. Houron is the person who took the viral image. She told CNN that she was in the crowd, she just took two or three pictures. The popularity of the image launched and a wave of “How are you?”  that she received from people on social media, she decided to make a video to answer that question. What Haroun highlighted was the fact that this building movement has had little-to-no media coverage up until now. When speaking about Alaa, Haroun told CNN, “She was trying to give everyone hope and positive energy and she did it. She was representing all Sudanese women and girls and she inspired every woman and girl at the sit-in. She was telling the story of Sudanese women. … She was perfect.”

Haroun’s quick thinking with a cellphone camera managed to garner global attention without the presence of a news team present and that is the powerful takeaway she has from the situation. “I immediately thought: This is my revolution and we are the future.” These are the women on the frontlines of a revolution happening in real time and they are realizing that their power lies in them and their dreams for their country. “We have a voice. We can say what we want. We need a better life and to stay in a better place.”

According to CNN, Salaah was chanting “In the name of religion, they burnt us” with the crowd answering “Revolution!” Another man told CNN that “she was encouraging the crowd to bring down the oppressive regime that any Sudanese citizen is subjected to. She was calling for Thawra, the revolution.” According to Twitter user Hind Makki “Sudanese everywhere are referring to female protestors as ‘Kandaka,’ the title given to the Nubian queens of ancient Sudan whose gift to their descendants is a legacy of empowered women who fight for their country and their rights.”

The Independent just reported that Omar Hassan al-Bashir was removed as president in the early hours of this morning through military arrest. Sudanese Defense Minister and Army Cheif Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf has declared a State Of Emergency for 3 months and that a military council will rule for two years. That isn’t the democratic conclusion protestors were hoping for and army rule can be just treacherous as it usually manifests as an oligarchy, which is autocracy without a sole dictator figurehead. The women-led #SudanProtests built enough pressure to oust an oppressive ruler through the sheer will of Salaah and protestors like her. Don’t look away from Sudan just yet as the story is far from over.

In the meantime, let’s remember that the future isn’t female — the present is.