The Promise Institute for Human Rights at UCLA School of Law

Egypt and the Contradictions of Liberalism: Illiberal Intelligentsia and the Future of Egyptian Democracy

Book talk with authors Dalia Fahmy and Daanish Faruqi and editor Khaled Abou El Fadl.


In the first book published by Professor Khaled Abou El Fadl as editor for the Oneworld series on Islam, Human Rights and Democracy, authors Dalia F. Fahmy and Daanish Faruqi investigate the putative about-face of a critical mass of prominent Egyptian liberal activists and intelligentsia, who despite spending full careers pursuing progressive reform under Mubarak ultimately remained silent in the face of, or outright lent support to, the counterrevolutionary forces that culminated in the military coup of July 2013. Using an interdisciplinary approach, the editors ultimately argue that the latest failures of Egyptian liberals in the context of 2013 are indicative of a broader set of contradictions inherent in the liberal project in Egypt, from its institutional dimensions and frameworks -- from Egyptian party politics, to the judiciary, to civil society organizations -- to its ideological and philosophical foundations. Professor Abou El Fadl will give context to the importance of this book in light of his new Oneworld series, and also discuss his own chapter in the book entitled "Egypt’s Secularized Intelligentsia and the Guardians of Truth." Fahmy and Faruqi will elaborate on these institutional and philosophical contradictions endemic to Egyptian liberalism, and offer potential correctives for rethinking liberalism in a manner that does sufficient justice to Egyptian social and cultural identity, and that overcomes its elitist and authoritarian proclivities.


Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl is one of the world’s leading authorities on Islamic law and Islam, and a prominent scholar in the field of human rights.  He is the Omar and Azmeralda Alfi Distinguished Professor in Islamic Law at the UCLA School of Law where he teaches International Human Rights, Islamic Jurisprudence, National Security Law, Law and Terrorism, Islam and Human Rights, Political Asylum and Political Crimes and Legal Systems.  He is also the Chair of the Islamic Studies Interdepartmental Program at UCLA. 

A prolific scholar and prominent public intellectual, Dr. Abou El Fadl is the author of 14 books (five forthcoming) and over 50 articles on various topics in Islam and Islamic law.  He has lectured on and taught Islamic law throughout the United States and Europe in academic and non-academic environments for over twenty years.  His work has been translated into numerous languages including Arabic, Persian, French, Norwegian, Dutch, Ethiopian, Russian, and Japanese, among others.

Dr. Dalia Fahmy is Associate Professor of Political Science at Long Island University where she teaches courses on US foreign Policy, World Politics, International Relations, Causes of War, and Politics of the Middle East. She is also a Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Policy in Washington DC. Fahmy’s three books: “The Rise and Fall of The Muslim Brotherhood and the Future of Political Islam” (forthcoming), “Egypt and the Contradictions of Liberalism: Illiberal Intelligentsia and the Future of Egyptian Democracy” with Daanish Faruqi and “International Relations in a Changing World” with Rhodes and DiCicco cover her research areas. Dr. Fahmy has published several articles in academic journals focusing on democratization and most recently on the effects of Islamophobia on US foreign policy. She has been interviewed by and written editorials in various media outlets including ABC, Al Jazeera, CBC, CNBC, MSNBC, the Huffington Post, the Immanent Frame, and the Washington Post.

Daanish Faruqi is a doctoral candidate in History at Duke University, and is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights (CGHR) at Rutgers University. His work deals with Islamic political thought, and currently focuses on the nexus between Sufi mysticism and political activism. In addition to his work on Egypt, he has research expertises in North Africa (Morocco and Algeria specifically), Israel/Palestine, Syria, and South Asia (Pakistan in particular). Additionally, he has worked extensively on modern Arab political philosophy and intellectual history, and on reformist Islamic thought through the prism of objectives-based legal theory (maqasid al-shari‘ah). A former Fulbright scholar, he has spent several years in the Arab Middle East as a researcher and journalist. In addition to his scholarly work, he regularly writes for the global press, having published in Al Jazeera, Common Dreams, and USC-Annenberg/Religion Dispatches, among other media outlets. 

Moderator: Aslı Bâli is Faculty Director of the Promise Institute for Human Rights at UCLA School of Law and Director of the UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies. She holds the title Professor of Law at UCLA Law where she teaches in the International and Comparative Law Program. Recent work includes Constitution-Writing, Religion and Democracy (Cambridge University Press, 2017) (co-edited with Hanna Lerner); “Turkish Constitutionalism Under the AKP” (Theory & Event, 2016); and “The Wrong Kind of Intervention in Syria,” in THE UNITED NATIONS AND THE ARABS (eds. Vijay Prashad and Karim Makdisi) (Oxford, 2016). Bâli currently serves as co-chair of the Advisory Committee for Human Rights Watch-Middle East.


Event Flyer

Copy of the book can be purchased here.

Sponsors: International and Comparative Law Program; The Promise Institute for Human Rights; Center for Near Eastern Studies