Scholar works with citizens to tailor reforms for post-revolutionary Egypt

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FORT WORTH – Individual rights are often described as the cornerstone of a functional democracy. They are also the starting point for meaningful democratic reform and ultimately a safer world.

Texas A&M University School of Law’s associate professor Sahar Aziz stands by this reasoning and focuses her research primarily on civil rights, rule of law in emerging democracies in the Middle East, and how these issues relate to national security in a post-9/11 world.

Aziz’s research and policy work pay particular attention to minorities most vulnerable to being targeted by the state. As such, she is among the leading experts on post-9/11 discrimination against Muslim, Arab and South Asian communities in the United States. This work informs her interdisciplinary research on the role of law in expanding or constraining individual rights in a post-revolutionary Egypt, which is currently experiencing a rise in terrorist acts after the deposal of its first democratically elected president.

In the Middle East, Aziz says, citizens are not interested in “copying” American-style democracy or abandoning cherished familial and religious values. “Rather, they seek thriving economies that provide equal opportunity in employment so that the best and brightest may lead their nations, offer quality education to all residents regardless of socio-economic status and transparency that prevents the pervasive corruption that is debilitating their public and private sectors.”

Societies with historically undemocratic political systems pursue democratic initiatives as a means of improving their quality of life. This includes access to food, education, employment and basic individual freedoms.

“For these reasons, it is important for Western academics and advocates to work directly with their counterparts at the local level in a particular country to tailor rule of law programs to suit the needs and desires of the local population,” Aziz said.

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