Despite parallels with Iran, Haideh Moghissi notes more hopeful prospects for the future of women’s rights and democracy in post-Arab spring regimes.
It is hard not to inspired by the popular uprisings, that have come to be known collectively as the ‘Arab Spring.’ Yet, the swift turn in favour of Islamist parties, in Egypt and Tunisia, while not unexpected, is cause for concern. For Iranian women who lived through the establishment of the Islamic regime in Iran, what we are witnessing in relation to Tunisia and Egypt is distressingly familiar. Expressing concerns over emergent regimes in Arab countries, Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi called upon Arab women in March 2012 to Iran. We understood very well the hidden meaning of President Morsi’s statement after his electoral victory – that the Muslim Brotherhood’s success reflected the second conquest of Egypt by Islam.”
The developments that have taken place in the region, so far justify our misgivings. Attempts at redefining women’s rights and status in the new constitutions and at rolling back of the reforms to family law achieved in previous decades, as well as intimidating tactics for pushing women out of public spaces speak to the challenges ahead for women in the Arab counties in which military regimes were overthrown through a revolution.
Not withstanding all of the foregoing, no one can truly anticipate the direction that the Arab uprisings will take in the near future. For a variety reasons, including the lessons learned from the revolution in Iran, as well as differences between the conditions and the major players in the Iranian and the Arab contexts, it is possible, and one should certainly remain hopeful, that the unfinished revolutions, particularly in Tunisia and Egypt will produce results more favourable to the democratic forces that started the uprisings.
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