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Sudan woman in legal limbo over refusal to cover hair

The court is waiting for the prosecutor to send the file back to court for additional hearings, Amira Osman Hamed says

AFP , Monday 4 Nov 2013
Hamed
Amira Osman Hamed (Courtesy of Hülya blog)
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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 Hamed 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The defence asked in September that the charge be withdrawn but the prosecution is still weighing how to proceed, Hamed and one of her lawyers told AFP after Monday's hearing in Jebel Aulia, just outside Khartoum.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, Hamed said.

No new date has been set for a further hearing, but one of her lawyers, Kamal Omar, told AFP that "this does not mean the case is finished".

Hamed 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 Hamed 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 Ahmed al-Hussein led to a global outcry and spotlighted women's rights in Sudan.

Hussein 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.

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