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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. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  3. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  4. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  5. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

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