Africa News blog

African business, politics and lifestyle

A tussle over trousers in Sudan

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One moment everything was quiet on the streets outside the Khartoum courtroom where Lubna Hussein was on trial this morning, charged with indecency for wearing trousers.

The next, a three-way fight had exploded between riot police armed with crackling electric batons, women’s rights protesters waving banners and posters, and Islamists fuelled with righteous indignation and pious chants.

You couldn’t have asked for a better illustration of the opposing forces that have come piling down on Sudan’s government since the start of the case — opposing forces that also compete for influence at the heart of the Khartoum regime.

Women’s rights campaigners and other activists were the first to get involved after Sudan’s public order police barged into a party in the capital in July and found Lubna and 12 other female guests wearing trousers.

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