Virtual identities of Muslim women: A case study of Iranian Facebook users

Marziyeh Ebrahimi, Ramón Salaverría

Abstract


The virtual identity of women in the cyberspace surrounding Muslim countries is undergoing a process of differentiation from real-life identity. Although in some Arab countries women present themselves in online social networks as faceless users, in other Muslim countries, such as in Iran, they act differently. Despite the risk of possible real-life consequences, in some Muslim countries women are starting to feel free to decide how to present themselves on the Net, especially regarding the Islamic hijab. In addition, Muslim men and women are engaging in more open dialogue through their digital identities. Furthermore, social networks have given Muslim citizens a political voice, giving them the freedom to express what they object to in social or political terms. Within the context of Iranian society, this research project analyzes how the virtual and real behavior of female Muslim Facebook users varies and how the social networks are pushing them towards a kind of ‘Westernization’. The data has been collected through a content analysis of 550 public Facebook profiles of Iranian female users who live inside and outside this country.

Keywords


internet, social networks, women, censorship, muslim countries, Iran

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15847/obsOBS912015781