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The Story Behind This Viral Photo Of A Woman In White

It started with a photo that has swiftly evolved into a symbol of a women-led revolution.

Dressed in traditional white Sudanese dress, university student Alaa Salah stands atop a car leading protesters in song.

As thousands took to the streets in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, local photographer Lana Haroun captured the 22-year-old on Monday, her golden half moon earrings reflecting the twilight sun, her fingers defiantly pointing upwards.

The woman was singing traditional songs to protesters involved in the sit-in outside the military's headquarters, inspiring the masses to shout back to her.

"Thowra!" they shouted -- Arabic for "revolution".

At first, people across the world marvelled at the image, but didn't know her name.

This was -- for many of the public, and, indeed mainstream media --  a first glimpse of the mass protests in Sudan that have been ongoing for months. What started as complaints about the costs of living and food soon evolved into calls for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to step down.

Al-Bashir has held power since 1989 and has been indicted by the International Criminal Court on charges including crimes against humanity and genocide.

READ MORE: Violent Protests Erupt In India Over Women Entering Temple

The latest round of protests started on April 6 -- the day former president Jaafar Nimeir was overthrown -- and saw protesters commence a sit-in around the presidential palace and the military headquarters.

On Thursday, state television said armed forces would make an important announcement amid speculation a coup attempt could be underway against the President, according to Reuters.

At time of writing, local  reports that he has stepped down are unconfirmed.

Amid speculation, the world has come to learn the young woman's name --Alaa Salah, a now international icon for a protest movement with women at the frontline.

"I wanted to get on the car and speak to the people, speak against racism and tribalism in all its forms, which affects everyone across all walks of life," she later wrote on Twitter.

I wanted to speak on behalf of the youth. I wanted to come out and say that Sudan is for all.

And according to local media reports, she's still singing.

Haroun's original photo has been shared more than 17,000 times. In a video posted on Twitter, she asked people across the world to "pray for Sudan".

"Try to share our story for everyone [in] the world. Pray for us to be in a better place," she wrote.

Featured image: Twitter via Lana H. Haroun