Protesters set up a barricade on a street in Khartoum, Sudan, June 5, and continue to demand that the military hand over power to civilians,

Sudan’s great strength after a massacre

Despite the military’s mass killing, the Sudanese have already created a new society over six months of peaceful and inclusive protests.

  • Quick Read
  • Deep Read ( 1 Min. )

Despite the military’s mass killing, the Sudanese have already created a new society over six months of peaceful and inclusive protests.

Much of the world has condemned Monday’s massacre in Sudan of more than 100 pro-democracy protesters. The harsh attack on peaceful civilians by the military rulers even brought a rebuke from the African Union, a 55-nation bloc which itself includes ruthless despots. Yet on the ground in the capital, Khartoum, the reaction among protesters was very different. It may even offer a lesson on how to react to evil acts.

After the Army dispersed thousands of Sudanese outside its headquarters with indiscriminate shooting, the demonstrators simply moved to other parts of the city. Their fight was not with bullets but with the bullying during Sudan’s three decades of repression. They set up new barricades, called for a general strike, and relied on an amazing unity formed during six months of a peaceful sit-in.

They expressed relief that the military had finally revealed its true intent. Despite the fall of longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir in April as a result of the protests, the remnants of his regime still clearly seek to cling to power despite promises of elections.

“Our weapons are peace [and] courage,” said the main organizer of the protests, the Sudanese Professionals Association, in a statement.

The sit-in itself was a microcosm of the kind of society that the protesters seek to create. It was well-organized in supplying food and water. It was inclusive of women, workers, and the country’s diverse ethnic groups. People provided lessons in civic education. Organizers took surveys of who should run a transitional civilian government.

The protest chants included ideas on how to build a new Sudan. One popular chant was by poet Azhari Mohamed Ali: “The bullet doesn’t kill. What kills is the silence of the people.”

The Army’s violence certainly deserves international censure. And, as in countries from Egypt to China to Venezuela where those with guns and no democratic legitimacy still rule, Sudan could be in for a long struggle. Yet the world should also take notice of the dignity, democratic ideals, and nonviolent tactics of Sudan’s protesters. Real power does not come out of the barrel of a gun.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Sudan’s great strength after a massacre
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today