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Sudan's Eid Expressed through Social Media - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Debris lie on the ground as a child stands outside a home following heavy rains in Omdurman, some 30 kilometers northwest of the Sudanese capital Khartoum, on August 13, 2013. (AFP PHOTO/ASHRAF SHAZLY)

Debris lie on the ground as a child stands outside a home following heavy rains in Omdurman, some 30 kilometers northwest of the Sudanese capital Khartoum, on August 13, 2013. (AFP PHOTO/ASHRAF SHAZLY)

If only Al-Mutanabi was in Khartoum on the morning of the first day of Eid to rewrite his poem “Eid! In what [sorry] state do you return, Eid!” The bitter irony of the poem is nothing compared to the current state of the Sudanese during Eid this year.

They face rising prices, floods destroy their homes, and even the children in rich areas seemed less joyful this year. As for the children of the slums that were hit by the flood, do not even go there.

However, poverty and sadness were not the masters of the situation. From the rubble and ruins came hope in the form of young people as frail as young roses and as active as bees. They sweetened Eid and the end of the holy month with a voluntary act, new of its kind, with which they faced the failure of officials to deal with floods that swept large parts of the country. These youths are from the Nafir communal initiative, who voluntarily accomplished a big job in a short time and brought light to the Eid after hope seemed dark and scarce.

One feels the bitterness of Eid this year, taking into consideration the faces of the homeless children, the same way one feels when browsing through social networking websites which were filled with Sudanese sad Eid greetings. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have become Sudanese forums where people broadcast their complaints without fear, censorship, or punishment.

Famous journalist, Lubna Hussein, [who was sentenced to 40 lashes for wearing trousers, considered indecent under the strict interpretation of Islamic law adopted by Sudan’s Islamic regime] posted a greeting from exile in Canada that said: “Eid Mubarak to the people affected by the flood and rain. May the lord have Mercy on them.” Another Sudanese woman posted on her page: “Eid came for everyone but not for us,” a play on a song by Sudanese singer MohamedAl-Amin.

While it seemed like a member of the executive office of the Sudanese Writer’s Union Rashid Mustafa Bakhit was more pessimistic, by simply quoting Hassan Al-Basry by saying: “May every year bring such disgrace,” embodying with these three words, the melancholy that surrounds the people of Khartoum.

Writer and political activist Abdullah Rizk reiterated a Sudanese Eid prayer that says: “The Lord numbs, and makes green [affluent] your arms,” a metaphor for earning, and directed it to writers, transforming it into: “The lord make your flowers bloom.”

Then there are the Nafir youth, and the Nafir is a voluntary tradition in the Sudanese countryside in which youth help farm owners with work on their farm or participate in construction, a tradition the first of its kind within the realm of voluntary and civic organizations. Immediately after the disastrous floods took place during the last week of the holy month, young people from different social strata, professional disciplines, and different ages organized themselves rapidly to reenact the Nafir. They were able to provide clothing and medicine to the victims and this did not distract them from fasting or celebrating Eid.

Despite the bitterness of the situation, the Nafir youth’s posted hopeful Tweets conveying that the light at the end of the tunnel of suffering is beginning to show. Farouk Farid said: “Healthy recovery to you oh country! Nafir youth, you are the Eid this year!”

Ahmed Younis

Ahmed Younis

Ahmed Younis is a senior consultant with Gallup and a senior analyst at the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies and the Muslim-West Facts Initiative. He is the author of American Muslims: Voir Dire [Speak the Truth], a post-September 11 look at the reality of debate surrounding American Muslims and their country.

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