Opinion makers

In spite of the limits in freedom of the control over the media, religious leaders, tribal leaders, student leaders and politicians remain strong public figures. During periods of civil unrest these figures use different platforms to mobilise the community’s members and call for demonstrations in the mosques, universities and among the general public. In addition to these channels, opinion makers find alternative means to raise their voice of concern by mobilising the public through social media. Government control of information and restrictions in media research leads the public to seek alternative opinions.

Religion plays an important role in the internal politics of the country. The religious figures use the mosques as a platform to send the messages which mobilize the public and influence the opinions of the young generation. Some religious groups distant themselves from the political life as they have a relationship with the ruling party and sometimes they share similar interests. Some of these leaders influence public views toward support the regime, but others play a political role in the region and encourage the young generation to join Islamist groups in the region. Religious groups that have a close ties with the government have the permission and resources to operate TV and Radio channels. Their leaders use these channels to send their messages, but their media channels might not meet the professional standards of basic journalism values such as impartiality.

Tribalism is major issue in the social structure in the country and the voice of the public is often related to the tribe or region. This is especially the case in the areas affected by conflict such as Darfur, South Kordofan and Eastern Sudan. These groups have less interaction with the traditional media as they do not have access or resources. The current increase in the use of online media among the Sudanese facilitates greater dissemination of opinions via WhatsApp and Facebook.

Despite the restrictive environment, both activists and academics affect the decision making process. This group is actively engaged in social media, opinion spaces in newspapers and as columnists or bloggers, but access to national radio and television remain beyond their reproach.