Alaa Salah (Arabic: آلاء صلاح, Sudanese: [ʔaːˈlaːʔ sˤɑˈlaːħ]; born 1996/1997) is a Sudanese student and anti-government protester. She gained attention from a picture of her taken by Lana Haroun that went viral in April 2019. The image of Salah has been dubbed as "Woman in White" or "Lady Liberty" of Sudan.
Early life and education
Alaa Salah was born in either 1996 or 1997. Her mother is a fashion designer and her father works in the construction industry. She studies engineering and architecture at Sudan International University in Khartoum.
Since December 2018, a series of protests against President Omar al-Bashir have taken place, demanding economic reforms and the resignation of the president. A state of emergency has been declared in February 2019 as a result of the protests. April 6 and 7 saw the largest protests since the declaration of the state of emergency. In continuing protests, the army has been seen protecting protesters from the security forces on April 10. Eventually the protests led to the military removing al-Bashir from power, installing a transitional council in his place led by Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf, but the demonstrators, including Salah, claimed it was just a change of leadership on the same regime and demanded a civilian transitional council.
As protests continued, on April 8 Lana Haroun took an image of an initially unnamed woman dressed in a white thoub standing on a car, who spoke to and sang with other women around her during a sit-in near the army headquarters and the presidential palace. The image was widely shared on social media and caught international media attention. The image has been described as symbolic of the crucial role of women in the success of the demonstrations, since the vast majority of protesters, almost 70 per cent, are women.
Salah's white robe, a traditional Sudanese thoub, recalled the dress of female Sudanese protesters against previous dictatorships, as well as that of student protesters who were referred to as "Kandakas" after ancient Nubian queens. Her golden earrings are traditional feminine wedding attire. Commentators called the pose "the image of the revolution". Hala Al-Karib, a Sudanese women's rights activist said: "It is a symbol of an identity of a working woman — a Sudanese woman that's capable of doing anything but still appreciates her culture."
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