“Moreover, freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one’s religion. That is why there is a mosque in every state in our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders. That’s why the United States government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab and to punish those who would deny it.” — Barack Obama, Cairo, June 4, 2009
But who will go to court, or do anything at all, in the U.S. or Sudan or anywhere else, to protect the right of women and girls not to wear the hijab and to punish those who would deny it?
Khartoum: A Sudanese woman accused of “indecent” attire because she refused to cover her hair remains in legal limbo after a court appearance on Monday.
Amira Osman Hamid faces a possible whipping if convicted of violating Sudan’s laws governing morality, which took effect after the 1989 Islamist-backed coup by President Omar Al Bashir.
The defence asked in September that the charge be withdrawn but the prosecution is still weighing how to proceed, Amira and one of her lawyers said after Monday”s hearing in Jebel Aulia, just outside Khartoum.
The court is waiting for the prosecutor to either send the file back to court for additional hearings, or to quash the case, Amira said.
No new date has been set for a further hearing, but one of her lawyers, Kamal Omar, said that “this does not mean the case is finished”.
Amira said she thought that her case would not be quashed immediately.
“I think they will keep it [active] for a while,” she said. “If they want to use it any time they will. I’m not free.”
Under Sudanese law all women are supposed to cover their hair with a “hijab” but Amira refuses, saying authorities “want us to be like Taliban women.”
Her case has attracted international publicity and drawn support from rights activists.
She said she was charged after refusing a policeman’s order to cover her head while visiting a government office in Jebel Aulia in late August.
In 2009, the case of journalist Lubna Ahmad Al Hussain led to a global outcry and spotlighted women’s rights in Sudan.
Lubna was fined for wearing slacks in public but she refused to pay. She spent one day behind bars but others rounded up with her in a restaurant were flogged.