In a traditional white Sudanese gown and moon-shaped golden earrings, Alaa Salah stood atop the roof of a car with her right arm raised and a finger pointing skyward. Hundreds of her fellow protesters surrounded her, their phones held high to record her.
The image of the 22-year-old engineering student from Khartoum, Sudan’s capital, was taken on Monday by another woman, Lana Haroun.
It did not take long for it to go viral on social media and, in many ways, to become the defining image of nearly four months of street protests against the authoritarian rule of Islamist president Omar Al Bashir, demonstrations in which women have played a significant role.
A video shared online shows Ms Saleh performing a graceful dance, a mere hint of a sway to accompany her chanting, which gave heart to the hundreds of thousands of protesters staging a sit-in outside the headquarters of the armed forces in Khartoum in a bid to persuade the generals to remove Mr Bashir, in power since he led a 1989 military coup backed by Islamists.
To the refrain of “revolution” shouted by the crowd, the slender Ms Saleh chanted: “They burned us in the name of religion, killed us in the name of religion, jailed us in the name of religion.”
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