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After centuries of vibrant, various and sometimes controversial culture, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown asks why Muslim societies are turning increasingly monochrome and Puritanical.

Writer and Broadcaster Yasmin Alibhai-Brown continues her charting of the shift from vibrancy to puritanism in Islamist culture, focusing on key events in the 20th century, as the colonial powers lost their world dominance and increasingly emboldened Islamic countries sought to re-affirm their religious and cultural identities. Yasmin asks if it was inevitable that this would lead to more Puritanical societies with women suffering ever greater restrictions. She hears from scholars, historians and those who witnessed these changes in Iran, Egypt and even in the UK, and she challenges the notion that a Puritanical approach to Islam is a sign of strength. The increasing power of Saudi Arabia and Iran, the fundamentalist events that shook both nations and lead to an increasingly hard line approach to religious identity throughout the Muslim world, are discussed alongside signs that the tide may yet turn.

Producer: Tom Alban

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28 minutes