Sudanese Americans protest ongoing military coup in Sudan

Members of Iowa City’s Sudanese community gathered in front of the Old Capitol Building to protest Sudan’s military coup. Protesters said they approve of the U.S.’s actions towards the military regime so far, but urged them to continue their opposition.


Gabby Drees

A protester speaks during a protest against a military coup in Sudan on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. Around 100 people came and showed their support after the first protest earlier that week. (Gabby Drees/The Daily Iowan)

Meg Doster, News Reporter

Over one hundred Sudanese Americans gathered in front of the University of Iowa Old Capitol Building to protest the recent military coup in Sudan.

The demands from protesters are as follows:

  • For the Sudanese government to allow peaceful protesting
  • Restoration of internet service for the Sudanese people
  • Restoration of the Sudanese civilian-led transitional government and its institutions

The protest lasted three hours, with chants in support of a Sudanese democratic government, speakers sharing their support, and a march around Iowa City’s downtown streets before circling back to the Old Capitol Building.

The protest was a collaborative effort between the Iowa Freedom Riders, Mayor Pro Tem Mazahir Salih, and the Sudanese community in Iowa City.

“I wrote the press release, I helped, but mainly [it was] the Sudanese community,” Salih said. “I did not do a lot like them, but I helped spread the word.”

Salih said she reserved the street for the protest so that the protestors could march through downtown Iowa City.

“I have connections and I can use that connection to help my people,” Salih said.

Salih said that she plans to continue protests every Saturday until she believes her message is being heard.

Co-founder of the Iowa Freedom Riders, Ala Mohamed, is a Sudanese-American with family still in Sudan that she has not heard from since the coup.

“We want justice and we want to have democracy within our homeland because right now, we’re just seeing a lot of people getting killed in the streets as they try to oppose their freedoms,” Mohamed said.

Five minutes of silence were dedicated to the Sudanese lives lost protesting the military regime.

Protesters hold signs and flags while listening to a speaker during a protest against a military coup in Sudan on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. Around 100 people came and showed their support after the first protest earlier that week. (Gabby Drees/The Daily Iowan) (Gabby Drees)

Fatima Saeed, 25, a Sudanese American and the co-owner of The Keto Kitchen, said that she has lots of family still in Sudan that she has had no contact with since the coup.

“All kinds of communications have been restricted or have been shut down in certain areas,” Saeed said. “Sudan has been cut off from the rest of the world.”

Saeed said she urges the U.S. government to use its influence around the world to bring justice to Sudanese civilians.

“It is really scary, but we will not stop and we will fight,” Saeed said.

Mohamed said that while there are protests happening around the world, the U.S. is the only country supporting democratic government in Sudan and denouncing the military coup.

She also criticized a lack of international news coverage about the situation in Sudan, and said she hopes that more media coverage will put pressure on governments to support the Sudanese people.

Mayor Bruce Teague spoke to the protesters to share his support for the cause and for Sudanese Americans living in Iowa City, he said.

“In this city, you’re my brothers, you’re my sisters,” Teague said. “You’re my people. We are one, we are one, and this we will get through together.”

The protest was not against the U.S.’s actions towards Sudan’s new military regime, but to encourage U.S. officials to keep supporting Sudanese civilians.

“Local congressmen, senators, they have to say something,” said Mohamed Ahmed, one of the organizers of the protest. “Their voices are louder than us. They are more effective than us.”

Ahmed praised the U.S.’s decision to cut off $700 million in aid to the Sudanese government, which went into effect on Oct. 25.

“[The U.S. government] are pressuring the military to give the power back,” Ahmed said. “So we want to keep the momentum, keep the pressure up until they give up.”