The POP, a Sudanese equivalent to Saudi Arabia's Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, found Hussein in violation of Article 152 of what passes for Sudanese law, which forbids "indecent clothing in public." Indecent clothing, according to Article 152, includes pants. Jeans. Slacks. At least when women wear them. That's the inexplicable part.
Ten women arrested in the sweep that included Hussein paid the equivalent of a $100 fine and submitted to 10 lashes. Hussein refused to submit. She was taken to trial. She turned the event into what it was from the start: a circus. She printed 500 invitations to her trial and, if it came to that, to her flogging as well. She's now challenged the court to whip her 40,000 times if the state so wishes. She's aiming higher than the the whip's target: she's challenging Sudan's alleged Sharia law itself, which Hussein says, correctly, has no relation to the Koran.
The past and the future are on trial here. As The Economist noted, "Sharia law, the basis of Sudanís criminal law, was brought in by President Gaaffar Numeiri in 1983 and has stirred conflict ever since. Sudanís largely non-Muslim south fought a civil war with the Muslim north on and off for decades; the imposition of sharia was one of the southernersí biggest grievances. Under a peace deal in 2005, sharia is meant to apply only to Muslims, but Ms Hussein insists Christians were among those, in her case, who have already been flogged. South Sudanís semi-autonomous government lambasted the arrest of Ms Hussein and her comrades. "
So it's an old story in Sudan, with frequent, absurd examples. It wasn't that long ago that a British teacher was imprisoned in Khartoum, threatened with flogging and deported for letting her second-graders name a teddy bear Muhammad.