November 1, 2009 Special Dispatch No. 2604

Liberal Intellectual Dr. Mamoun Fandy: Journalist Lubna Hussein's Conviction for Wearing Pants Shows That the Sudanese Regime Has Lost Its Pants

November 1, 2009
Sudan | Special Dispatch No. 2604

On September 7, 2009, a Khartoum court convicted journalist Lubna Ahmad Hussein [1] of breaking the law by wearing improper dress - an offense which, under Clause 152 of Sudanese criminal law, is punishable by up to 40 lashes and/or a fine. The court fined Hussein 500 Sudanese lira (approximately US$200). [2]

In response, prominent Egyptian intellectual Dr. Mamoun Fandy, who resides in the U.S., contended that Hussein's case is further proof that the current Sudanese regime is a catastrophe for its people.

Following are excerpts from Dr. Fandy's article:

"TheSudanese Regime Bears the Greatest Share of Responsibility for the Crimes That Shocked Darfur"

"Lubna Hussein… was convicted by the Sudanese court in Khartoum for violating Sudanese criminal law. Clause 152 of this law mandates [up to] 40 lashes as a punishment for anybody 'whose conduct contravenes accepted norms or harms the public's morality,' or 'who wears inappropriate dress.' [Hussein] was convicted for wearing trousers that looked 'immodest'…

"The truth is, however, that Ms. Lubna dresses modestly; it is the regime which put her on trial that, against all decency, exhibited its private parts [by committing] the Darfur crimes; it violated decorum and shamelessly exposed itself to the entire world [with its pants pulled down].

"The Sudanese regime bears the greatest share of responsibility for the crimes that shocked Darfur. While it is not my purpose here to accuse this regime of orchestrating these crimes, I will not redress my statement that it is the Sudanese regime that is responsible for the Darfur crisis as a whole. How is it possible that a crisis that started out as [nothing more than] thefts of flocks of sheep and goats and attacks on shepherds has become irresoluble, evolving into a global scandal that is [wreaking havoc] in Sudan?

"I believe that it is the interference of the Khartoum government in Darfur's local issues, combined with the discarding of traditional [community] structures which used to [ensure] the settlement of local conflicts, that has ruined everything and caused matters to get out of hand. The entire regime was brought to trial at the International Criminal Court on account of a local, mundane problem, which, having claimed the lives of tens of thousands of Sudanese, has snowballed into an issue of international [importance]."

The Khartoum Regime's Savagery Has Made Lubna Hussein's Case Relevant to the Rights of All Sudanese Women

"Lubna Hussein's trousers are just a small matter. But the savagery of the Khartoum regime has made it relevant to the rights of Sudanese women, whether Muslim or non-Muslim and circumcised and uncircumcised, [3] and relevant too to the controversial issue of freedom of dress and of tribal and local apparel.

"The wars over trousers will set on fire and consume whatever remains of Sudan, after wars over goats and kids have devoured Darfur and dragged [Sudanese] President 'Omar Al-Bashir to the International [Criminal] Court.

"Lubna Hussein symbolizes a regime that has lost its pants. Try as we may to cover the private parts of the Khartoum regime, [the fact remains that] it has exposed itself stark naked before the [entire] world by perpetrating the crimes against the Sudanese people in Darfur - north and south, east and west.

"It is not Lubna Hussein who has offended the public's moral sensibilities. It is the regime that did this - by dividing the country through its savagery; it is the regime that has wounded morality.

"Lubna Hussein, in the clothes we saw her wearing, is not immodest. The immodest and dishonorable ones are those who made her the protagonist of a [provincial] theatrical performance, and [at the same time] the center of a global scandal, for wearing trousers. If the regime is telling her to be ashamed of [of her conduct], then those who love Sudan and its good people will say to those who staged this nefarious performance: It is you who ought to be ashamed - not her!...

"[This attempt to] dress Sudan's problems in ladies' trousers is a veritable outrage. The tragedy is not that Sudanese women wear pants - but that they must live in the shadow of a regime that has no pants on at all." [4]


[1] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 2453, "Sudanese Journalist Who Invited Press to Attend Her Court Hearing and Flogging: I Am Fighting for All Women," July 20, 2009, Sudanese Journalist Who Invited Press to Attend Her Court Hearing and Flogging: I Am Fighting for All Women.

[2] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), September 8, 2009.

[3] Female circumcision is still widely practiced in Sudan.

[4] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (Sudan), September 10, 2009.

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