This Article argues that if we wish to account for the limited gains made in the area of family law reform in Egypt in the twentieth century, it is crucial to relate the debate on family law with another debate, one revolving around the identity of the Egyptian legal system. Whereas the dispute over family law reform forced decisions on gender and the family, the contest surrounding identity centered on the ongoing and agonized struggle by Egyptians to define the nature of their country's contemporary cultural identity. The question of identity was often framed as a debate over the "character" of Egyptian law, asking: Should law in Egypt be reconstructed to re-acquire its lost Islamic identity, or should it remain European and secular?
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