Social media users across the world are turning their profile avatars blue to express solidarity with protesters in Sudan, following a violent crackdown which killed dozens of people in the capital, Khartoum.
The movement was started in memory of a 26-year-old artist, Mohammed Hashim Mattar, who was killed during an attack by security forces in Sudan in early June.
#BlueforSudan has been trending on Twitter as people seek to raise broader awareness of the situation in the country.
“Mohammed Mattar, was a very loved person, who believed in the people’s right and their revolutions,” said Saad Elasad, a Sudanese online activist living abroad.
“His friends started changing their Instagram and Twitter photos to his favourite colour #MattarBlue, which was also his account photo. Other people then followed even though some didn’t know him personally, which represent the spirit of sharing the pain in Sudan.”
Social media users say that Mattar was shot while trying to protect two women during the dispersal of the protest camp outside the military headquarters. Protestors have blamed his death on the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary group led by a senior member of Sudan’s ruling Transitional Military Council.
In a country where the state tightly monitors traditional media outlets, the internet has provided a platform for Sudanese citizens to spread the ‘Mattar Blue’ colour in his memory. The trend has since travelled across the world, even while Sudan has been experiencing frequent internet blackouts.
Shahd Khidir, a Sudanese beauty influencer and blogger based in New York, posted about Mohammed Mattar’s death to help widen the reach of the campaign.
The movement has also received international support from celebrities, including Barbadian singer Rihanna and NBA player Enes Kantur.
#BlueforSudan has also become a rallying point for Sudanese nationals against the Transitional Military Council, with many users also sharing some of the statistics from the government’s violent crackdown. Yet more are also sharing a series of blue artworks symbolising the protests in Sudan.
Protests have been ongoing in Sudan since December 2018. Despite Omar al-Bashir being ousted as president in April and subsequently charged with corruption, protesters say they will keep up their campaign until the military hands over power.
Many people believe the #BlueForSudan movement has given people in the country renewed hope.