Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Senior Honors Thesis

Department or School

History and Philosophy

First Advisor

Dr. Janice Terry

Second Advisor

Dr. Ronald Delph


Egypt and Iran are representative of the Middle Eastern countries that have sought to develop human rights legislation for their citizens based on both the standards of international law and the values inherent in Islam-based culture. This thesis compares and contrasts the course of human rights legislation in Egypt, a secular state rooted in Islamic culture, and Iran, a Muslim theocracy, since the establishment of the current regimes in each country (1952 and 1979 respectively). The thesis explores the history of Egyptian and Iranian human rights laws in the areas of women’s rights, the right to freedom of religion, and the right to freedom of speech and expression. It examines the similarities and differences present in such laws in both states. The thesis also includes an analysis of the various ways in which both countries’ governments have utilized Islam to justify these laws, such as their interpretations of the Qu’ran. Additionally, evidence is presented that suggests that both Egyptian and Iranian leaders have attempted to restrict human rights in order to preserve the Islamic foundations of the countries’ political systems. The thesis closes with a look at the most recent human rights developments in Egypt and Iran through 2003.