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Sudanese Journalist Gives Up Immunity, Faces 40 Lashes

July 30, 2009

The Sudanese journalist who was arrested for “indecent” attire (wearing pants) has opted out of the immunity available to her as an employee of the UN. Lubna Ahmed Hussein was arrested while dining in the country’s capital. Ten other women who were with her, some of them non-Muslims, were also arrested and received 10 lashes and a fine.

Hussein and three other women chose to hire lawyers and take the case to court. Hussein says she has surrendered her immunity because she believes the law is unjust and wants to fight to have it changed. She says she was following the Sharia, the Islamic religious law that tends to be interpreted differently depending on the country. Sudan is known to be especially strict. And as modern attire clashes with traditional Islamic dress, conflict is common.

Hussein entered court for the first time today and as Radio Free Europe reports: “As Hussein appeared for her hearing on July 30, the packed courtroom erupted into pandemonium. The reason: Hussein appeared in exactly the same green trousers she was wearing at the restaurant when she was arrested.”

The trial has to be postponed until August 4th so Hussein can resign from her job at the UN and give up her immunity in order to be tried.

Fellow female journalist Amal Habbani wrote an article in support of Hussein in the Ajrass Al-Horreya newspaper and because of that, she is now facing charges of “defaming police.”

Photo Credit: AFP

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.