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Photo: “Istanbul” by Pedro Szekely licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. Hue modified from the original

Mhajne, Anwar, and Gregory W. Saxton. “Gender Egalitarian Attitudes and Support for Islamist Parties in the Middle East and North Africa.” Journal of Women, Politics & Policy (2022): 1-18.


How do attitudes about women’s equality affect political support for Islamist parties? Women’s issues remain a key point of contention between religious groups and the government in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Given Islamists’ conservative stances on women’s rights, individuals who support gender equality may naturally be skeptical of Islamist parties participating in politics. Nevertheless, democratic stability in the region requires creating inclusive political institutions, including women’s movements and the Islamic opposition. Where democracy is inclusive and competitive, Islamist parties may moderate their positions to remain electorally viable, thus alleviating gender equality proponents’ concerns. To test these expectations, we draw on two different survey data sources from the MENA region. Our results, consistent across time and data sources, demonstrate that gender egalitarian individuals are less likely to trust Islamist parties or tolerate their inclusion in formal politics. Nevertheless, democracy mitigates this negative relationship.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.