From that moment it became very obvious that we were entering into a new era of politics. The military coup was masterminded by the National Islamic Front (NIF), a Sudanese extension of the Muslim Brotherhood organization.
Islam has always been the symbolic focal point among the Sudanese people, the vast majority of whom are Muslim. Their faith largely represents who they are, and it is what brought them together as a hybrid nation. However, most Sudanese Muslims followed the North and Western African Sufi traditions, which were deeply ingrained in Sudanese identity and their approach to life. Endurance, tolerance, spirituality and diversity are central values in the majority of the Sufi orders’ guidance. To impose an alien violent and repressive ideology such as their version of militant Islam on Sudan was not easy. The NIF did what fascist regimes do everywhere: they resorted to violence. And mostly violence against women. But the women of Sudan are not buying the miserable rhetoric of militant Islamists. They are choosing how to engage with their faith, and strongly believe that their pursuit of freedom in no way contradicts their religious or cultural identity.
Women’s unstoppable engagement in the Sudan revolution is not random; it is a defiant act that is motivated by a strong need for change, and for justice and freedom.
Following the June 3rd 2019 Khartoum massacre, women in Sudan are enduring rape, sexual harassment, and intimidation by the Sudan Military Council without receiving any support. The hatred and misogyny of militant Islamists is surfacing once more. Soldiers of the Sudan Transitional Military Council are roaming the streets of urban and rural centres, terrorizing and harassing women and girls. It is our belief that this is an attempt to send women back home, away from the public sphere, and to limit their political participation.
Sudan now is standing at a crossroad between a decaying past that is still grabbing onto to the country and attempting to block its future and an undefined future that could lead the country into democracy and peace. Overall Sudan is still challenged by layers of obstacles and an unfavourable regional and international environment. And while formal celebrations are taking place today on August 17 to launch a contracted government combined of the old and the new, the fragility remains to be the dominant factor.
However, in my view, I think that the political will of the Sudanese people is a critical factor that largely has been so far influencing the equation of change in Sudan since the beginning of the revolution. The commitment of youth, men and women and of Sudanese women especially has contributed in a big way to the disintegration of the old regime so far. If these groups that came together during the revolutionary times succeed in sustaining their influence and organization post the revolution, Sudan could very much cross into democracy and peace.