Social media accounts across the internet are being swept by a wave of blue. Users are changing their profile pictures in solidarity with Mohamed Hashim Mattar, a Sudanese protester who was killed outside the military headquarters in Khartoum, and whose favourite colour was blue.
Mattar, a 26-year-old engineer and a graduate of London’s Brunel University, was shot dead after he reportedly attempted to shield two women from harm when the Rapid Security Forces (RSF) attacked a peaceful sit-in on June 3.
The movement is gathering momentum all over Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Alongside the profile picture, the hashtag #BlueForSudan is trending and has been an instrument for people to show their support to the thousands of people facing military violence in the country.
— ود البيه (@khalidalbaih) June 12, 2019
“Once he was murdered, his friends and family changed their profile picture to match his, and eventually other people began to join in,” said Shahd Khidir, a friend of Mattar’s and a beauty influencer on Instagram who asked her followers to change their profile pictures to blue – just like Mattar’s profile picture on Instagram.
“Now [the colour] represents all of the Sudanese people who have fallen in the uprising.”
The Revolution So Far
Led by the Sudanene Professional Association, the people of Sudan began a peaceful demonstration against longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir on April 6. He was removed in a coup on April 11 and a Transitional Military Council was established. But protesters remained at the site calling for civilian rule.
On June 3, the last day of the holy month of Ramdan – the fasting month for Muslims – the peaceful sit-in in Khartoum was dismantled by the RSF. Commanded by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, or Hemedti, RSF is a paramilitary force primarily composed of the Janjaweed militia, who fought on behalf of the Sudanese government in the War in Darfur which killed thousands.
The following day was supposed to be the first day of Eid-al-Fitr – a much needed celebration for the people of Sudan. However they were met with the opposite. The deadly militia crackdown has led to indiscriminate shootings, countless women being raped and corpses being thrown in the nile.
Ever since the violence ensued, the country’s military have restricted internet access, leading to what many have started calling a total internet blackout. Social media is one of the only outlets that people have in a country like Sudan, where the state tightly monitors the national media.
— Usama Rehman (@itsusamarehman) June 14, 2019
In the wake of the protests, the hashtag #IamtheSudaneseRevolution was endorsed by the Sudanese Professionals Association to attract global media attention. However, the crisis remains majorly ignored by mainstream global media houses. Hence, civil society’s support has now become the biggest symbol of hope for the Sudanese people.
While some claim that it doesn’t achieve much, donning the blue profile picture raises the question: ‘Why are people doing this?’. And in doing so, it educates one more person about the atrocities that the people of Sudan face this very moment.