With the downfall of Hosni Mubarak, political revolution has already happened in Egypt. But is the Arab Spring now encouraging much wider change in the Arab world's biggest country?

In this edition of Heart and Soul, the writer, Christopher de Bellaigue, considers the potential for a new, more questioning attitude among Egyptians in the wake of the popular uprising, and asks if the result could be an increasingly critical approach to social, familial – and even religious – authority.

The programme explores a number of examples - from an apparent new determination to resist paying bribes to public officials, through a greater desire to see active debate rather than passive obedience in the classroom, to the growth of salafists - conservative Muslims who advocate more personal interpretations of Islam’s holy texts, and who reject reliance on the rulings of traditional Koranic scholars.

Though not all these phenomena were unknown before the Arab Spring, the political revolution does seem to have fuelled their growth. Key to many appears to be the disappearance of personal fear – one unmistakable consequence of vanquishing the Mubarak regime. Today, despite often remaining wary of the future, Egyptians are, it seems, fearlessly asserting their own views as never before, without seeking external validation.

Questions, however, remain - if a new, more assertive mentality is indeed emerging, who shares it – and crucially, who does not? And would such an increased personal conviction necessarily result in more pluralism, as is sometimes assumed in the west? Or could it give greater voice to Egypt's innate social and religious conservatism?

(Image: An Egyptian boy poses with a sign saying 'We Shall Over Come' in front of anti-government protesters in Tahrir Square. Credit: AP Photo/Tara Todras-Whitehill)

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28 minutes

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Mon 10 Dec 2012 03:32 GMT