Unlike other countries in the region, Sudan is grossly underreported, and this was ever so evident during Friday and Saturday’s street demonstrations. The Sudanese government keeps a tight grip on local media and bans journalists from reporting on issues of human rights and corruption.
This however does not justify the blatant lack of interest from international media outlets. Al Jazeera, for instance, played a prominent role in reporting the uprisings in several Arab countries, but netizens say it seems to ignore the events currently unfolding in Sudan.
The media coverage of recent protests in Sudan was confined to articles in Al Arabiya and Al Jazeera, including some snippets on Al Jazeera’s English Channel. Other news outlets to cover the protests include CNN, the Malaysian news outlet The Star, the New York Times, Yahoo News, ABC News, and the Chicago Tribune. Nonetheless, this has not brought enough attention to the issues on the ground, as most of these news outlets don’t have much impact in the region, say netizens.
The protests kicked off after Friday prayers in a mosque in Wad Nubawi neighborhood in Omdurman. A call for protests tagged as #SandstormFriday was made a day earlier. The demonstrations were organized to protest against rising prices and the government’s new austerity plans that were announced by Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashir and implemented last week.
Those who heard about the protest made their way there. Hamid was one of them; he tweeted [ar]:
After prayer, people gathered in front of the mosque and marched on one of the main roads in Wad Nubawi chanting anti-regime slogans. This protest lasted a few hours before police dispersed the crowd with tear gas and plain clothed police men infiltrated the ranks of the protesters.
After the protests were disbanded, Yousif Al Mahdi was on the scene and tweeted:
Protest back on inside district, wad nubawi fighting back, police cars in sideroads & firing tear gas @ houses
At the same time, similar protests started in Burri neighbourhood of Khartoum, and eventually in Al-Daim. The protests in Burri were quickly suppressed by security personnel and police. Al-Daim however was too much for the authorities to handle. Ammar Mahdi tweets:
Hours ago from #AlDaim district , ppl throwing police signs and step on them.
The protests in Al-Daim went on into the night with several police trucks burnt by protesters. Haitham Makkawi was on the ground and claimed that Al-Daim residents have taken over the scene:
Al-Daim residents have completely taken over! Photos of burnt down police trucks were all over twitter showing the aftermath of the protests.
Later that night another protest started in Siteen Street, a main road in Khartoum next to Riyad neighbourhood; this photo shows protesters gathering around a burnt tyre in the middle of the road.
Girifna, a non-violent movement, used social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to convey information about the whereabouts of protests around the tri-state capital. In this tweet [ar], Girifna directs people to the location of new protests in Omdurman:
Girifna’s efforts portray the advantages of citizen journalism in a country where free speech and reporting is suppressed.
The Sudanese online community was overjoyed by the events unfolding in the capital Khartoum; Hamid Murtada, who was at the heart of the protests, tweeted [ar]:
Some of the Sudanese Twitter users likened the events happening in Khartoum to those in other countries in the region and maintained solidarity with those struggling with dictatorial regimes elsewhere. Khalid Ewais, a journalist with Al Arabiya, tweeted [ar]:
The Sudanese Diaspora were on standby for those who needed help on the ground giving tips on how to document the protests and possible use of social media sites in the advent of an internet shutdown. Nada, a Sudanese residing in Egypt, advised on how best to cover the demonstrations:
if u are an IPHONE user & are amongst the protesters in sudan, download USTREAM thru the app. world. #SudanRevolts.
The online Sudanese community seems optimistic about the course of the Sudanese revolution, where many promise that June 30, 2012 will be the ruling National Congress Party's final anniversary.