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Law school’s Egypt program temporarily shut down due to protests

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In light of recent protests in Egypt which have resulted in looting and fires in the streets as demonstrators demand the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, the Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis program, in association with the Alexandria and Cairo University Faculties of Law has halted operations, at least for the time being.

The only program of its kind in Egypt where an American university teaches courses to students that result in the Egyptian students receiving the same master of laws degree as the students who attend courses at the school’s American campus, cohorts of about 65 students each have started each January since 2008. The 2011 cohort started classes earlier this month.

Frank Emmert, executive director of the law school’s Center for International and Comparative Law and director of the Egypt program, left Cairo on Friday and arrived in Indianapolis Saturday morning. He taught the first block of classes for the Egypt program for almost three weeks, up to and including Thursday, when he expected to leave Cairo due to the instability of the area, but that flight was delayed and he was booked on a Friday flight instead.

He said he did not expect the protests to fizzle out until the president resigned, and added the protestors, mostly middle-class, educated citizens, had grown more confident each day since the violence erupted a week ago.

Swadesh S. Kalsi, a retired attorney who practiced at Krieg DeVault and was scheduled to teach a course in Egypt starting today, left Cairo Sunday. As of this morning, the latest Emmert had heard was that Kalsi and his wife made it to Frankfurt, Germany, but had experienced delays on his flight back to the United States due to the weather. The important thing was that Kalsi was out of Cairo and safe, Emmert said.

While there were no other American professors for the program who were still in Egypt as of today, he said he and others involved in the program were concerned for their Egyptian colleagues.

The unrest in Egypt had been building, Emmert said, partially due to the economy and difficulties faced by the middle class.

Part of the reason for the law school’s program, which is funded by the United States Agency for International Development and has received funding for the 2011 cohort of students, was to help the country’s economy by training business lawyers. While many of the students who have started since the program’s first class in 2008 have had a connection to or interest in practicing business law, a large number of students also enrolled due to their interest in rule of law issues, including judges in the court that is equivalent to the federal Circuit courts in the United States.

“They don’t want to do it to help their government, they want to do it to help their country,” he said.

Because courses for the program are taught in blocks, Emmert said those involved with the program have decided to wait and see how things are going closer to mid-February when the next block of classes is scheduled to start.

A more in-depth article about the Egypt program will be published in the Feb. 16-March 1, 2011, print edition of Indiana Lawyer.
 

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