Sudan's Lubna Hussein Convicted for Wearing Trousers

For wearing trousers, Hussein is convicted, but spared lashes.

ByABC News
September 7, 2009, 10:45 AM

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept. 7, 2009 — -- A Sudanese court convicted journalist Lubna Ahmed Al Hussein of indecency for wearing pants in public, ordering her to pay a $200 fine, but sparing her a sentence of receiving 40 lashes.

Hussein was one of 13 women arrested in Khartoum July 3, for wearing pants, a violation of the country's strict sharia law. Ten of the women paid the fine and were flogged shortly after their arrest, but Hussein and the other women decided to plead not guilty.

The charge and subsequent possible sentence of 40 lashes has caused a public outcry. Human rights group Amnesty International calls flogging laws "barbaric." United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon has said flogging is "against the human rights standards," and said that the organization would protect Hussein, who was working in the United Nations Sudan mission.

But Hussein doesn't want protection. She turned down a presidential pardon and resigned from her UN position, wanting to be tried as a Sudanese citizen and for the case to go public. She sent out invitations to her first trial last month, even inviting people to her possible flogging.

The case was adjourned after the judge requested Hussein consider her options in seeking immunity, which she continued to decline.

Hussein has made it clear she doesn't see today's sentence, widely believed to be a compromise of upholding Sudanese law without causing an international uproar over flogging, as a victory.

On Friday she told The Associated Press that if convicted, she would sit in jail before paying a fine. "I will not pay a penny," she said. Her lawyer has reportedly suggested she pay the fine to settle the case, but she told reporters she plans to appeal the decision. Hussein said she wants the law repealed.

Hussein's case is not the first to cause international outrage over Sudan's interpretation and enforcement of strict Muslim Laws. In 2007, British schoolteacher Gillian Gibbons was convicted of insulting Islam for naming her classroom's teddy bear Muhammed, a crime that also carried a sentence of 40 lashes. After intervention from the British government, Gibbons was released and deported after 15 days and was not flogged.