Climate change activist Lina Yassir uses Islam to get her environmental message across in profoundly religious Sudan
Lina Yassin was 15 years old when Sudan was hit by the worst floods in a quarter of a century.
The disaster, in 2013, affected half-a-million people and saw 50 killed, 70 injured and 25,000 homes destroyed, according to the country's ministry of health.
Although a high school student, she did volunteering work to help her city recover. It was during this time that wondered why Sudan could not anticipate the disaster or, at least, adapt and prevent future floods.
"That was a life-changing experience for me because I got to know the victims on a personal level," Yassin, from Khartoum, told Euronews.
"I started reading about floods and I found a lot of articles that linked them to climate change. My mind was blown by the fact that no one was talking about this, even though Sudan is quite affected by it," she said.
Yassin started to write for the high school newspaper about this issue: she wanted to engage as many people as possible with a matter that she thought would change her country forever.
Only a couple of years later, her articles reached some of the most important publications in the country.
Yassin, 21, has already attended four UN climate change conferences, including the last one, COP25 in Madrid.
"In Sudan, there is an understanding that climate change is only for the nerds or scientists and that is not everyone's responsibility. My articles were an attempt to link climate change to everyone's life," she explained.
In some of her pieces, Yassin took a different approach to explain climate change: using Arabic language, she addressed the topic through Islam, as her country is profoundly religious.
As Yassin explained to Euronews, in Islam everything that happens in life is considered to be "God's plan". Therefore, for some believers, climate change could be understood as God's will and should not be questioned.
However, she challenges this argument "digging deeper" into the religion, as the Quran, Islam's holy book, says that God sent humans to the Earth to protect it.
When it comes to climate activism, Yassin faced several barriers. A few months ago, she was chosen by the United Nations to represent Sudan in the UN Climate Summit in New York.
"I was very excited by this opportunity because that summit was the first chance for young people to come together and talk about climate change", she said.
Unfortunately, the US Embassy was closed in Khartoum at that time which made the process of getting a visa even more complicated.
"They were expediting appointments for special people, and we thought we could qualify for that process," she said.
However, Yassin was never granted an appointment, not even after the United Nations contacted the embassy.
"Just because of my passport and where I was born I lost an opportunity that could have contributed a lot to my future and the future of climate activism in my country," she added.
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