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Rihanna’s Sudan posts prove she’s exactly the kind of influencer the world needs right now

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Meena Alexander
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When 91 million people follow you, one post can be a catalyst for real change – and no one knows this better than Rihanna.

The Sudanese political crisis has been slipping down the news agenda in recent weeks, but the nationwide protests and military crackdowns in the country continue to rage on, with hundreds of lives lost. 

Determined to keep global attention on the atrocities, Rihanna has spoken out on social media about the plight of civilians desperate to restore democracy and put an end to the violence in Sudan.

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The singer and business mogul posted pictures of Sudanese protesters, including the now iconic image of 22-year-old student Alaa Salah, with a caption stating that “they have a right to speak out and demand peace, justice and a transition to civilian rule”.

“Over 100 were killed and hundreds more wounded during the June 3rd protests. Military rulers need to be held accountable,” she wrote.

She urged followers to “fight for human rights in Africa and stand with protesters in Sudan” ahead of a fresh wave of demonstrations over the weekend, which left at least seven dead and 181 injured, according to the state news agency.

Earlier this month, Rihanna used her Instagram Stories to draw attention to the sexual violence Sudanese civilians were suffering at the hands of the military, who took control of the country after a coup to remove dictator Omar al-Bashir in April.

Despite internet blackouts orchestrated by the military regime, Sudan’s pro-democracy movement has been propelled forward by young people on social media. 

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The #BlueForSudan campaign – based on the favourite colour of 26-year-old engineer Mohamed Mattar, who was shot by soldiers in the June protests – encouraged thousands of people around the world to change their profile pictures and raise awareness of the crisis.

Public support from a global juggernaut like Rihanna has undoubtedly added fuel to the campaign, bringing it to the attention of her 91.8 million Twitter followers and 72.7 million Instagram followers.

She also recently spoke out on US immigration policy, denouncing the Trump administration’s attempts to deport thousands of families. “I think in any situation as devastating as what’s happening in America right now with the immigrants, you have to be as loud as you can and you have to raise as much awareness as you can,” she told The Root.

Her resolve to skip the platitudes and focus on galvanizing people shows her desire to effect real change, but the inevitable trolls have accused her of being “uninformed” on global issues.

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Granted, it shouldn’t take an Instagram post from a celebrity to make us care about crises like the one in Sudan, but the fact is Rihanna’s influence is as far-reaching and hard-hitting as that of any political leader or humanitarian.

She clearly cares about making the world a better place and we have to commend her for wielding her power in a positive way – we only hope more famous faces are inspired to follow suit.

Images: Getty

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Meena Alexander

Meena Alexander is Stylist’s sub-editor. She mostly writes about music, TV, film and books – all the best things in life.

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