A UN worker in Sudan, Lubna Hussein, is to appear in court today charged with wearing trousers. As a Muslim woman, the punishment could be up to forty lashes (the other women with her were none Muslims, and so received ‘only’ ten lashes and a $100 fine). While wearing trousers isn’t prohibited under Sharia law, it is under Sudanese law. Nesrine Malik, who wrote about this case recently, believes that the arrests were less about principle and more about a need to show the strength of the regime:
“There has been a media blackout on the latest floggings in Khartoum and the word on the street is that the security officer who engineered the cafe raid was a lone ranger provoked by al-Hussein’s tone when he urged the women to act or dress more modestly. Her lawyer stated that such raids were to remind people “that Big Brother is watching you”, and there is certainly an element of this in the government’s rather erratic approach to its implementation of sharia.
Since this commitment to divine law is cosmetic and not in earnest, the religious whip is cracked when there may be a perception that the regime is going soft, using Islam as proxy for authoritarianism.”
Hopefully the outcome will be as she predicted too:
” I predict a face-saving magnanimous presidential “pardon”, such as the one bestowed upon Gillian Gibbons â€“ one that does not discredit the initial charge but halts proceedings or stays punishment.”
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Filed in: 'Honour'-based violence,Current affairs