Women, Islam, Egypt, and Iran
Tehran Bureau / SETAREH SABETY

Most female protesters in Egypt choose to wear the hejab, while Iranian women have struggled to shed it.

[ comment ] Many pundits are comparing the Iranian uprising following the June 2009 presidential contest with the one taking place right now in Egypt. One was sparked by the results of an election that seemed rigged, while the other has been prompted by mounting political and economic discontent with the rule of a long-standing dictator. Some say that a better comparison for the events in Egypt is the Iranian Revolution of 1979, which saw the ouster of another corrupt, American-backed dictator and the rise of the ayatollahs and political Islam.

Each comparison contains truths but misses an essential difference that is a gauge of how differently positioned the two societies are on the evolutionary ladder of their respective political cultures. The main difference between the Egyptian and Iranian uprisings is the role of women's demands or, in different terms, the degree of influence of feminist discourse.

Women, whose civil rights have been grievously violated by the Islamic Revolution, gave the reformist campaign its soul, its zeal. They feminized the Iranian uprising of 2009.

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