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McKinney professor Arafa says law students in his native Egypt are helping to guide nation’s future

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Mohamed Arafa recalls the day last month when he left Cairo, Egypt, to return to his adjunct professor post at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis.

The streets in the capitol of his native land were full of people demonstrating, and it took four hours in a taxi to navigate to the airport. “Today we have two presidents on trial,” Arafa said of the day he departed Cairo.
 

apb-arafa02-15col.jpgIndiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law professor Mohamed Arafa’s legal scholarship on corruption in his native Egypt has made him a sought-after lecturer. (IL Photo/ Aaron P. Bernstein)

The rule of Egypt largely has been dictated by people in the street, having had two revolutions in a little more than two years, and Arafa has been in the thick of the crowds both times.

First was the Arab Spring of 2011 – massive protests that toppled the three-decade, iron-fisted rule of Hosni Mubarak. Then this summer, Egyptians dissatisfied with the democratically elected but increasingly dictatorial government of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi took to the streets again, forcing him out with the aid of the nation’s military. Some westerners called it a coup in the nation of 85 million, but Arafa said that’s an oversimplification.

“June 30 was a counter-revolution, not a military coup,” Arafa explained. “It was the biggest mass protest in the history of the revolution. … The military assisted the people in achieving their dream after the failure of the Islamist government” of Morsi, Arafa said. That’s a narrative that’s played out repeatedly in Egypt.

But Arafa said the military also was responding to acts of terrorism instigated by supporters of Morsi, such as burning churches and police stations.

“I had not been in Egypt since the 2011 revolution,” he said. “This time was great, but it was a different feeling. Everyone was talking (about) politics – everyone from every different strata of society.”

Nurturing rule of law

As an adjunct professor at IU McKinney School of Law, Arafa teaches classes of 25 or so, focusing on the study of Islamic law. But Arafa also is a professor of criminal law and criminal justice at Alexandria University in Egypt, where class sizes can run into the thousands.

“Last summer I was really proud to see students in my class participating in constructing a road map for the nation’s future,” Arafa said. “They are really wanting to see the rule of law equally applied to all citizens without discrimination.”

In his own studies, Arafa’s doctoral dissertation at IU McKinney was influenced by the events in his home nation. His writing focused on the corruption of the Mubarak regime, which has been accused of plundering the national treasury for decades.

Arafa’s dissertation, “Towards a New Anti-Corruption Law in Egypt After Mubarak,” has been published and earned him an invitation to help draft new planks of an Egyptian Constitution dealing with official corruption and freedom of information.

Arafa also has presented his scholarship on Egypt at Harvard University’s Institute for Global Law and other notable forums for international law. Next month, Arafa will speak at two forums at universities in Texas.

Professor Frank Emmert, director of the Center for International Law and Comparative Law at IU McKinney, recalled Arafa adjusting the nature of his dissertation to coincide with the changes he was seeing as the Arab Spring bloomed in his home country.

When Arafa began at IU McKinney, Emmert said, Egypt “had 34 years of static, Mubarak police state. … During the time (Arafa) was here, there were two really dramatic changes in government, in society.

“In a way, the people have woken up to the fact that if they’re in the street in sufficient number, they have power,” Emmert said.

James Nehf, associate dean of graduate studies at IU McKinney, was an adviser to Arafa as he was working on his dissertation.

“He instantly came to be pretty well known around the world as a corruption expert,” Nehf said. Arafa’s dissertation is a comparative study of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, anti-bribery law in Egypt and Islamic law. “He’s done a lot of speaking on the subject and he’s very much in demand as an expert,” Nehf said.

“We’re very proud of the work that Mohamed has done. It just goes to show you, every now and then, research that people think of as a purely academic exercise can have some real-world applications,” Nehf added.

“I think Mohamed is going to be a terrific scholar. He’s an excellent teacher already, and he’s going to be a force in the field of international criminal law for many years to come.”

‘Ungovernable’ nation?

Arafa in a recent analysis pointed to a commenter who suggested Egypt “might just be ungovernable.” He’s not so pessimistic.

Rather, he sees Egyptians demanding more than they’ve had in the past. Mubarak, he said, drove educated people from the nation and was widely seen as a destructive force for education.

Morsi, meanwhile, promised educational, social, health and other reforms that he didn’t deliver. When it became clear that Morsi was attempting to instill a less flexible form of Islamic law, through constitutional reforms, Arafa said the nation collectively said “no” to being led down a path similar to that of Iran.

“Egypt is not that way. They are not going to accept religious rule,” he said.

But the nation is divided, and even appointments to committees considering changes affecting the constitution and how the rule of law will be carried out are scrutinized. “We have great laws, the problem is how to implement them,” he said.

Egypt has a rich, secular tradition with a hybrid legal system based on Napoleonic and very flexible Islamic law for certain Koranic crimes, Arafa said, but there is widespread lack of respect for the rule of law. That comes from such things as a common fear of being detained by the military, for instance.

“The debate on enhancing the rule of law is going to continue and going to take a while,” said Arafa, whose father also is a lawyer in Egypt.

Arafa said it’s unlikely that military ruler Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will emerge as a long-term leader and noted that al-Sisi already has vested temporary power in an interim president, Adly Mansour. Al-Sisi remains a deputy prime minister. Egyptians see the military leader as a hero of the moment, Arafa said, but they have no appetite for a military government.

He believes the transition will be long and perhaps fitful in the eyes of the international community. The military at times may appear to be running things just in order to ensure security, stability and order. But Arafa said the nation is on the right path and has an ambitious road map that relies on the rule of law.

“Egyptians insisted and will still insist on being a democratic state and will regain a leadership role in the region and in the world,” Arafa said. “Egyptians usually make history and change the world.

“I’m optimistic about the future, and I’m confident in my people.”•
 

Insights on Egypt

Click here to read Professor Mohamed Arafa’s recent observations on the situation in Egypt.


 

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  1. Am I the only one who sees that the City is essentially giving away the MSA site AND giving millions to build new buildings on the site when this site would be the perfect place for the Justice Complex? Across from City-County, check; keeping it centrally located, check, etc. It's my understanding that the GM site must be purchased by the City from Motors Liquidation Company. STOP WASTING WHAT WE ALREADY HAVE AND OUR TAX DOLLARS! The Ballard Administration has not been known for it's common sense...never voted for him and never will!

  2. This guy sounds like the classic molester/manipulator.

  3. Louis D. Brandeis was born in 1856. At 9 years of age it would have been 1865. The Brandeis family did not own slaves. My source Louis D. Brandeis: A Life, by Melvin L. Urofsky.

  4. My name is Matthew Lucas Major, I recently went through a jury trial in Bloomington , In. It was the week of Feb 19-21. Although I have been incarcerated since August 5, 2014. The reason I 'am writing to you sir is on the 21 of February the jury came in with a very excessive and wrongful verdict of guilty on 6 child molesting charges against my daughter who was 9 at the time I was accused. I also had 2 other Felonies one of Intimidation and 1 of Sexual Vicarious Gratification. Judge Marc Kellam on the second day of trial gave me a not guilty on those 2 felonies. The jury was sent out during that time and when brought back Judge Kellam told them to not concern themselves with the 2 Felonies that he ruled on them. They were told to not let evidence they had already heard influence there verdicts. I never in my life touched any child sexually and definitely not with my own daughter. When I was arrested Detective Shawn Karr told me I would be convicted guilty just on my daughters word even without evidence. That's just what happened. my public defender did me so wrong he never once proved to the court and jury all the lies the child told, and Jeremy Noel my public defender could of proven the lies easily. The stories in Serenity's depositions and Forensic interview changed and were not consistent as Prosecutor Darcie Fawcett claimed they were. Yet my attorney never mentioned that. The facts that the child accused me of full penetration in her vagina and rectum was proven lies. Doctor Roberta Hibbard of Riley hospital in Indianapolis confirmed Serenity's hymen intact, no scars, no tearing, no signs of rape to her. Yet my attorney didn't use that knowledge . the DNA was all in my favor. I tell you I will spend my entire life in prison going through rape and beatings etc. even Judge Kellam abused his authority by telling the jurors to listen and believe what the prosecutors side in evidence like my daughters testimony. In one interview with the detectives my daughter got flustered with her mom and said on camera " I'm saying what you told me to mom"!! Yet Mr. Noel said nor did anything to even resemble a defense attorney. Judge Kellam allowed edited version of a taped conversation between the child and her mother. Also Judge Kellam allowed the Prosecutor too bring in to my case a knife found under my seat, the knife wasn't part of my case. She was allowed by my attorney and the judge to put a huge picture of it on the screen and huge picture of my naked privates in a full courtroom and open court. Ms. Fawcett says to jury see how easy Mr. Major could reach the knife and cut his Childs throat. Even though I had no weapons charge against these cases. This gave the jurors prejudice thought against me thinking I threatened her with that knife and how scared she would of been knowing i could get it and kill her. On my sentencing court March 19, 2014 my public defender told Judge Kellam he wish to resign from being my attorney and wished for the court to give me outside council to file a error to trial or appeal. We were denied. Now after openly knowing my public defender don't want to represent me he has to. Well when as parents we make our kids clean a room when they really don't wish to, well the child will but don't mean she will do a good job, that's where I'm at with Mr. Noel. please dont ignore mine and my families pleas for your help . we have all the legal proof you could need to prove Im innocent. Please dont make my spend years in prison innocent when you can fix this wrong. Im not saying Im a perfect man or that I was a perfect dad to my 2 children none of us are. Ive made some bad choices in life and I paid for them. But I didnt ever touch or rape my daughter . I love my children with all my heart. And now through needing attention and a ex-wife who told my granny several times she wish she could put me in prison to get me out of their lives. Well my ex finally accomplished her goal. Sad part is she is destroying our daughter with all this horrific lies and things she taught my daughter to say. My daughter will need therapist to ever hope for a chance of a normal life after what she had done to her by her mom and their side of the family. My daughter told everyone even on stand she had a dream months before i supposedly molested her in this dream I was molesting her and when I finally did it matched her dream perfectly. She admitted to watching movies about little girls being molested and watching U-Tube videos about child molesting all before it happened supposedly to her. Doesn't that sound very unusual that a non molested 9 yr old would need to know so much about being molested? The only reason I could think a 9 year old would need so much information is to be prepared to know what to say and be able to say how it felt what took place etc.. So when questioned by authorities she would be prepared. And there again sir if a parent is pre grooming a 9 year old child she would need intimate details . Like telling her daughter about a couple moles on my private area. The child admitted to sneaking my cell and looking many many times at nudes of me and my girlfriend even one where my penis was entering my girlfriends vagina. In that picture my moles are obvious. Yet when prosecutor showed everyone in court my privates and pictures of the moles she said the only way the child would know about them is if she saw them for herself. My attorney once again said nothing about the pictures my child saw. Or could a ex-wife be able to describe my moles to help her case against getting rid of me? I beg you help me. This is my very existence. Ive lost everything , a good job, a wonderful girlfriend, my freedom, but worse thing Ive lost is my children. They were my reason to get up every morning and strive to be better. The wonderful bond I had with my Serenity is gone. After this I would be afraid to even hug her for fear of what next can they do to me. I'm not afraid to tell you I sit here in this cell and try to hold back my tears. Everyone knows you cant show weakness in prison. My life has already been threatened here at Wabash Valley Prison. After only 3 days of arrival. I was tricked into signing a waiver now Im in G Block General Population with 6 child molesting felony charges. Mrs. Hart as a 18 year old I almost died hooked to machines in hospital almost 1 month and now I know that fear was childish compared to this . I cant help but put emotions in this, after all Mrs. Hart Im human and God help Me I never been more afraid in my life. I didnt hurt my little girl I didnt touch her sexually. As much as it shreds me and fills my mind what Im facing I worry more about my mom and granny because of their great love for me mam they are suffering so deeply. I aint done this things but my loved ones suffering right along beside me and If you take my case you will be in essence freeing them also. I sent momma this letter and asked her to email it to you. I'm scared I have been done so unjustly by our legal system and I need you to fix this and give me freedom. I ask you please don't just ignore my pleas. Here in America its nice to be able to trust our legal justice system, well they destroyed my and my loved ones trust in our justice system . And I'm trusting in You !!! My entire family is suffering this nightmare with me. My 77 year old granny had a stroke and isn't doing so well. My single mother that raised 3 kids alone is dying from Lupus and since my arrest has stayed so sick and weary. Our lives torn to peices by a government I was taught I could trust in. my momma has tried so many innocent project and wrongfully accused and cant get anywhere. please please help me. A quote from the late Nelson Mandela: To be free is not merely to cast off ones chains, But to live in a way that respects and enhances The Freedom Of Others. I have Faith in you and your clinic to cast my chains off and give me freedom I do deserve as a wrongfully accused Man, son, brother, father, friend. Matthew Major DOC# 246179 Cause # : 53c02-1308-FA-000779 God Bless you. Please contact me with your decision so I know you made a life changing decision for me , just please at least write me so I know you care enough about your citizens to respond to cries for your help. You can speak openly with my mother Charlotte Spain (828) 476-0406: 71 Lakeview Dr. Canton, NC 28716 Thank You Matthew Major I know yall get thousands of request and inmates claiming innocence, and each person who are innocent deserve to have organizations like yours willing to fight for them and I give yall so much Thanks and I thank God everyday yall are out there caring enough to help free the innocents. Since discovering firsthand how easily lives and families can be destroyed by Poor Defense attorneys not doing their job . And Prosecutors allowed to do as they please in court

  5. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

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