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ODU ‘Arab Spring’ Forums to Provide Insight from Egypt and Iran Scholars

"Arab Spring" is a term that has edged its way into the collective consciousness. But how much do most people really understand about the causes and implications of these popular uprisings currently playing out in the Middle East?

A pair of upcoming Old Dominion University forums, titled "The Arab Spring: Current Perspectives on Egypt and Iran," are intended to shed greater light on the social movements that have challenged the dictatorial status quo of a number of countries while fomenting restive environments and uncertain futures.

The community forums will be held from 7:30-9 p.m. April 3 and 1:30-2:45 p.m. April 4 in Room 1012 of the Batten Arts and Letters Building, on ODU's main campus. Both events are free and open to the public.

The featured speakers, who have firsthand knowledge of the circumstances leading up to the Arab Spring, are Mohammad Hedayati-Kakhki, a former Iranian attorney who now works for the University of Durham and the United Kingdom's immigration office, and Adel Ibrahim Maged, a judge with the Egyptian Court of Cassation, Egypt's supreme criminal court. The forums will also include Michael Bohlander, a former German judge and current professor at the Durham University School of Law who has trained judges, prosecutors and government officials from several countries in international and comparative criminal law, including the Iraqi High Tribunal that tried Saddam Hussein.

The ODU forums will focus on understanding the potential of the Arab Spring movement, the many challenges facing the emerging regimes and the impacts on surrounding countries. Each presentation will be followed by an open session for questions and discussion.

Hedayati-Kakhki will speak on "The New Egyptian Constitution and Iran's Post-revolution Legislative History: Lessons to Be Learned." His discussion will consider whether the new Egyptian constitution will support modernization and protection of freedoms fought for in Tahrir Square or usher in a darker era that could turn the country into the next Iran.

Hedayati-Kakhki graduated with a law degree from Shahid Beheshti University, in Tehran, and subsequently earned a master's degree in International Law at the University of Shiraz (Iran). Upon completion of a Ph.D in Middle Eastern Politics and Law at Durham University (UK), he was appointed a special advisor to the Centre for Criminal Law and Criminal Justice, at the university.

Maged will speak on "Transitional Justice, the Arab Spring and the Rule of Law." His presentation will cover the causes of Arab revolutions, examine the transitional period many states are witnessing and assess the impact on the development of the rule of law and justice in the region.

Maged has many years experience in the fields of criminal justice and trial advocacy as a public prosecutor and judge in Egypt. Prior to his work with the Court of Cassation, he was a judge at the Egyptian Court of Appeals and a legal advisor on international criminal law and treaty affairs for the Ministry of Justice of the United Arab Emirates.

Bohlander, who is leading the forums, will offer insight on "Political Islam, Shari'ah and the Role of Religion in the Arab Transition Process."

Before joining the Durham School of Law, Bohlander was a life-tenured judge in criminal and civil matters in both the trial and appellate courts of the German judiciary. From 1999 to 2001, he served as the senior legal officer of a trial chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, in the Hague, where he was involved in the confirmation of the 1999 Kosovo indictment against Slobodan Milosevic and other related cases.

The ODU Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, the International State Crime Research Consortium - Durham University (UK), Durham School of Law and the Islam, Modernity and Law Center are hosting the forums.

For more information call 757-502-9253.

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