03/26/2012 11:31 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Islamic Feminism and the Blue Bra Revolution (VIDEO)

In today's installment of Faith Complex, we interview journalist, feminist and Muslim activist Asra Nomani about what is known as the "Blue Bra Revolution."

As so often happens these days, this revolution was triggered by a YouTube video. For those of you who have not witnessed this deeply disturbing sequence, which occurred in December 2011, let me briefly describe it here. Where we pick up the trail a group of protesters in Tahrir Square are quite literally being manhandled by Egyptian security forces. The camera closes in on one particular act of abuse: A woman whose name we still do not know and whose ultimate fate remains a mystery is brutalized by military police.

This chaotic scene comes to a baffling end as the victim, apparently unconscious, lies in the street with her blue bra revealed. Creeping in from the wings, a security agent -- his baton at rest -- suddenly feels compelled to cover her exposed flesh. This ostensible concern for her modesty is awfully difficult to decode, given what he and his colleagues have just put this poor woman through.

Reflecting on this grim and bewildering scene, Nomani calls attention to how traditional honor/shame categories in the Muslim world have been radically upended in the wake of this incident. Whereas once the victim would have been castigated in the media and civil society, the tables have apparently been turned.

No small amount of outrage about this violent act has been expressed in the Arab and wider Islamic world. It is the male perpetrators who have been publicly shamed, and in this Nomani sees a new and promising development arising from this distressing moment.