The role of women in the great upheaval in the Middle East has been woefully under-analysed. Women in Egypt did not just "join" the protests – they were a leading force behind the cultural evolution that made the protests inevitable. And what is true for Egypt is true, to a greater and lesser extent, throughout the Arab world. When women change, everything changes - and women in the Muslim world are changing radically.Of course, as Phyllis Chesler (a woman who's been ostracized from the feminist movement for daring to speak truth to delusion) brought to our attention, today's class of female graduates is apt to be a lot more covered up than chick graduates of thirty years ago. But no doubt the be-veiling is indicative of their "thinking critically in mixed-gender environments," i.e. of their knowledge that if they don't cover up, something really awful (sexual assault, rape, etc.) could happen to them--and of their thinking that they have no place in "mixed-gender" settings, since sharia consigns them to a lesser, a second class, status.
The greatest shift is educational. Two generations ago, only a small minority of the daughters of the elite received a university education. Today, women account for more than half of the students at Egyptian universities. They are being trained to use power in ways that their grandmothers could scarcely have imagined: publishing newspapers - as Sanaa el Seif did, in defiance of a government order to cease operating; campaigning for student leadership posts; fundraising for student organisations; and running meetings.
Indeed, a substantial minority of young women in Egypt and other Arab countries have now spent their formative years thinking critically in mixed-gender environments, and even publicly challenging male professors in the classroom. It is far easier to tyrannise a population when half are poorly educated and trained to be submissive. But, as Westerners should know from their own historical experience, once you educate women, democratic agitation is likely to accompany the massive cultural shift that follows.
Elsewhere on the site of the Islamic CNN (touted as a bastion of fair-mindedness and high journalistic standards) its true colours are revealed in this unhinged piece about Israel appropriating the falafal as a propaganda tool and to keep oppressed Palestinians down. (To which the only sensible retort is: balls to that!)