Sahar Aziz

7-Aziz

Sahar Aziz

Expert

Areas of Expertise: National security and counterterrorism, Civil rights, Rule of law in the Middle East, Muslims, Arabs, and South Asians in the West, Employment discrimination, Race and the law.

Disclaimer: the work linked below reflects the view of the author and does not necessarily reflect the view of ISPU.

Sahar F. Aziz is a Professor of Law at Texas A&M University School of Law.  Prior to joining TWU, she was an adjunct professor at the Georgetown University Law Center where she developed and taught a new course entitled National Security and Race in a Post-9/11 America. Ms. Aziz served as a Senior Policy Advisor for the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security from 2008 to 2009 where she worked on public policy involving the intersection of national security and civil rights.  Ms. Aziz led various roundtables between government officials and community groups to foster constructive dialogue and mutual trust among stakeholders. Prior to joining DHS, Ms. Aziz was an Associate at Cohen Milstein Sellers and Toll PLLP where she litigated class action civil rights lawsuits alleging a nationwide pattern and practice of gender discrimination in pay and promotion.  Ms. Aziz was also an Associate at Wilmer Hale where she conducted an independent human rights investigation on child trafficking in the Middle East.

Education

M.A. Middle Eastern Studies, J.D. University of Texas

Areas of Expertise

  1. National security and counterterrorism
  2. Civil rights
  3. Rule of law in the Middle East
  4. Muslims, Arabs, and South Asians in the West
  5. Employment discrimination
  6. Race and the law

Articles

Selected Scholarly Work

Additional Publications

Call it a coup d'etat. Call it a legal maneuver mixed with a political power grab. But however you see it, the recent dissolution of Egypt's parliament is an event with an outwardly growing blast radius. At the center of the blast, the question remains as to whether Egypt has become a Pakistan-like state where…
Last week’s announcement by Egypt’s military that it is extending a state of emergency for another two months was but the latest reminder that Egypt has regressed back to pre-revolution authoritarian practices. Since Mohamed Morsi was ousted as president in July, Egypt’s military and security forces have tightened their grip on the country. And while…
While President Obama’s Middle East speech on May 19, 2011 was a welcome change of course, it was delivered long after the United States should have started backing its rhetoric with action and trying to stop the gross human rights violations occurring in Bahrain. His administration must take advantage of the shrinking window of opportunity…
The American government’s preventive counterterrorism strategy is no secret.  Weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft declared, “Our single objective is to prevent terrorist attacks by taking suspected terrorists off the street. Let the terrorists among us be warned: If you overstay your visa – even by one day – we will…
Few Americans are surprised to hear that 9/11 shifted our domestic terrorism focus from neo-Nazis and white supremacists to Muslims in America. What may come as a surprise, however, is the pervasive use of anti-terrorism powers against non-Muslims as well, including white middle-class protesters - as we saw in the Occupy movement. The 9/11 terrorists' warped…
(American Constitution Society) Days before Secretary Clinton urged foreign governments to promote rule of law through an independent civil society; the U.S. Supreme Court struck a blow to American civil society's commitment to international human rights. In Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project (HLP), the Court ruled it is unlawful to train organizations designated as terrorist…
Last week, Mona Eltahawy triggered a polemic firestorm with her blanket assertion that Arab men's hatred of women explains the abysmal gender inequities found in the Middle East. Many Arab women are perturbed that her article "Why Do They Hate Us?" in Foreign Policy has received so much attention while millions of women leaders throughout…
(CNN) -- A year ago on June 4 in Cairo, Egypt, President Obama pledged to ease rules that impede American Muslims' ability to engage in charitable giving. His laudable commitment was in response to donors' fears of donating to humanitarian causes abroad, especially in conflict zones where aid is most needed.   One year later,…
The Arab revolutions, and their aftermath, are a testament to the human spirit. In a matter of months, decades of corruption and injustice were confronted by the raw strength of women and men unified against a common dictator. Facing death, torture, and sexual assault at the hands of state police and government-hired thugs, people across…
Upon taking office, President Mohamed Morsy vowed to eliminate corruption in Egypt. Indeed, corruption was among the first issues he identified as posing the most serious challenge to the Egyptian economy. Yet despite his rhetoric, little has changed under his administration – so far, at least. By the end of last year, Egypt had dropped…
Egypt is in a tug-of-war between old and new forces between the usual suspects - the military, political parties and the Brotherhood-led executive branch. But another political heavy weight has joined the fray - the Supreme Constitutional Court. The past two years since the revolution have shown that Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) is a…
“Egyptians are not ready for democracy” — this was Mubarak’s flippant response to domestic and international calls for political reform in Egypt.  The past few months put this fallacy to rest. Political grandstanding and posturing aside, the heated disputes show a sophisticated debate on the role of religion, individual rights, and power sharing among the…
What started as a political battle for power between the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt’s liberal parties has become an identity crisis for the country. For many Egyptians, particularly the intelligentsia, the current conflict represents a struggle for the soul of Egypt that goes far beyond the issue of electoral democracy. Will the nation remain secular…
The violence Egypt experienced this summer brings to the forefront whether impeachment is a more effective avenue for removing a president accused of egregiously abusing his power. Although impeachment can be as destabilizing as a coup because it risks undermining the importance of election terms and the political process—the legitimacy of which is vital to…
Egypt’s revolution did not end on February 11, 2011. Despite the removal of Hosni Mubarak from the presi- dency, the former Mubarak regime remains entrenched in Egypt’s economic and political system. This is evident from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces’ (SCAF) June 2012 power grab of legislative authority after dissolving parliament — a…
Chairman Castro, Members of the Committee my name is Sahar F. Aziz. Thank you for the opportunity to testify today in my capacity as a law professor whose scholarship focuses on the intersection of national security and civil rights as it relates to Arabs, Muslims, and South Asians in the post-9/11 era. I want to…
Now that the Boston Marathon bombing suspects have been killed or captured, wild speculation is spreading about the link between their motives, their Chechen identity and their Muslim faith. All the while, the memories of the victims are eclipsed in shadow. To distract from grieving for the victims mars the legacies they left behind. And…
(Search for Common Ground News Service) - The recent discovery of attempted terrorist plots by Muslims in America has prompted overreaching accusations of radicalisation of an entire religious group. As a consequence, pressure is mounting on Muslim American leaders to engage in elusively defined counter radicalisation.   But rather than spend limited resources on programmes…
In October, in a blatant act of discrimination, a Muslim woman wearing a veil in an Oklahoma bank was reportedly told she had to be escorted from the door to the teller. The Valley National Bank in Tulsa stated that this was not an act of religious discrimination, but rather part of their “no hat,…
On April 25, 2012, the US Supreme Court heard oral argument on legal challenges to Arizona's immigration law. Under SB 1070, police officers must determine an individual's immigration status during a lawful stop, which some have concluded is a recipe for racial profiling. Those found to be without proof of legal presence face arrest and…
It took the United States government nearly 10 years to hunt down and kill Osama bin Laden in retribution for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Over that same period, Muslims struggled to overcome guilt by association for the criminal acts of bin Laden. Meanwhile, all Americans were forced to give up civil liberties in a…
Rise of Lone Wolf Terrorism and Anti-Minority Legislation Evince Anxiety Over America’s Changing Demographics The Obama administration’s recent summit on Countering Violent Extremism perpetuated an age old American tradition – conflating violence abroad with violence at home.  As Americans with origins from conflict zones, Muslims are facing the brunt of anxieties arising out of the violence…
Like millions of Americans across the nation, my heart dropped at the news of the bombings in Boston. As a mother, I was devastated for those who lost their children. As a spouse, I mourned for those who lost their life partner. And as a Muslim, I admittedly feared for the safety of my children…
Over the past few years, federal officials have expressed concerns about a perceived increase in a "Islamist homegrown terrorist" threat. High-profile cases involving "lone wolves" accused of terrorist plots on U.S. soil coupled with public perceptions of Muslims as prone to terrorism have triggered a flurry of congressional hearings and executive reports recommending more aggressive…
The American Constitution Society)  The U.S. Supreme Court recently heard argument in Humanitarian Law Project v. Holder. The plaintiffs, a human rights organization and a retired federal judge, sought to teach international human rights law and provide training on nonviolent conflict resolution to the Kurdistan Workers' Party and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Both organizations…
In the same week, a Moroccan 29-year-old man was caught attempting to bomb the Capitol in a government-led terrorism sting operation and the NYPD was caught systemically spying on Muslim students at Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers, and other universities on the US east coast. These two seemingly distinct events epitomize the fundamental flaws…
Egypt is forever changed. Whether ruled by a civilian government or a military junta, gone are the days when the government can blithely dismiss the will of the people or coerce them into obedience. This most recent wave of mass protests demonstrates Egyptians' refusal to go back to the dark ages of iron fisted dictatorship.…
The conviction of American-born Tarek Mehanna of conspiring to help Al Qaeda has raised questions about the balance between free speech and national security.  We're joined by Sahar Aziz to talk about the case.  She is an Associate Professor at Texas Wesleyan School of Law and is a fellow at the Institute for Social Policy…
At the Brookings' U.S. Islamic World Forum in Doha, Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough was asked whether President Obama would implement his Cairo speech commitment to stop government discrimination against American Muslims. Because Bush's counterterrorism practices had stigmatized Muslims as the most distrusted minority in America, Obama's pledge was particularly salient. But instead of…
Much of the analysis on the causes for the military’s ouster of Mohamed Morsi focuses on the Muslim Brotherhood’s performance, or lack thereof, in domestic affairs. Glaringly absent, however, is an examination of the preeminence of Sinai in the military’s decision to intervene in otherwise civilian political disputes between the burgeoning liberal parties and the…
Much of the discourse on the Egyptian revolution posits democracy as antithetical to stability. As Americans, we know better. Our country is composed of people from all over the world with diverse political views ranging from the far right to the far left. We have communities of every faith, some of whom believe the others…
Egyptians have made more history in the last two years than in many decades past. They welcomed military rule only to waste 15 months pushing them back to their barracks. They turned out in record numbers to vote for a new parliament that was later dissolved by the Supreme Constitutional Court.  The first democratically elected…
Across the world, soccer occupies a sacred space that stirs up feverish nationalism and ardent fidelity to a team.  Team loyalties often mirror a nation’s social and political fault lines.  Egypt’s February 2 soccer game-turned-massacre, therefore, was the SCAF’s sinister manipulation of the sport to attack the revolutionary youth and terrify Egyptians into supporting their…
On April 12 the United States government successfully convicted another young Muslim male who believed he had the right to express his deep disdain for American foreign policy in the Middle East and Asia. Tarek Mehanna, an American-born Bostonian, took his First Amendment rights quite seriously when he vocally condemned his government for killing thousands…
On the same day that Rep. Peter King held the fourth "homegrown terrorism" hearing focused exclusively on Muslims, the White House released its Strategic Implementation Plan for Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States. Despite the White House's seemingly benign approach to counterterrorism, its implementation produces adverse effects similar to Mr.…
When Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued a scathing rebuke of an assistant U.S. Attorney based in San Antonio, she opened the Supreme Court's door to a discussion many of us have been having for several years all across this country. Although concurring with her fellow Supreme Court Justices in a decision not to hear an appeal of…
Decades after passage of the historic Voting Rights Act, so much has changed. And yet, so much remains the same. Racial minorities are registering to vote and turning out at the ballot box in record numbers. However, they remain under-represented in local elected positions and virtually excluded from national and state political office. Latinos, for example, are…
In December 2011, Janet Napolitano testified that lone wolf terrorists are America's primary domestic national security threat. Based on recent terrorism indictments, Napolitano was clearly referring to young Muslim men in America with unpopular political viewpoints and orthodox religious beliefs. A young man who fits this profile is susceptible to sting operations by undercover agents…
In the post-9/11 era, Muslim women donning a headscarf in the United States find themselves trapped at the intersection of bias against Islam, the racialized Muslim, and women. In contrast to their male counterparts, they often face unique forms of discrimination not adequately addressed by Muslim civil rights advocacy organizations, women’s rights organizations, or civil liberties advocates. From the outset, it is…
Late last year, a Staten Island woman and her toddler were attacked by a pedestrian who punched her in the face, pulled on her scarf, asked her why she was in America, and called all Muslims and Arabs terrorists. One week later in Seattle, Wash., two American citizens of Somali descent were physically attacked at…
Egypt is undergoing a period of enormous promise and citizen empowerment. For the first time in its history, Egyptians are electing their president through a relatively fair and free process. The mood in the streets is electrifying as people from all walks of life feel vested in their country's future. Despite the bumpy post-revolution road,…
The political backlash and opportunism surrounding President Obama's defense of Muslims' First Amendment rights jeopardizes religious freedom for all Americans. On August 13, 2010, the White House sponsored the annual Iftar, a tradition started by President Clinton in 1996, commemorating the month of Ramadan. Diplomats, members of Congress, and community leaders from diverse backgrounds celebrated…
The United States government announced last week that it would not, after all, make a determination as to whether the ouster of Egypt’s Mohamed Morsi constituted a “coup.”[1] This decision has both important strategic and financial implications for the United States. By not designating Morsi’s expulsion as a military coup, U.S. law allows the United…
In recent weeks Egypt's interim military rulers, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), have stepped up attacks on civil society leaders and pro-democracy activists, accusing them of peddling "foreign agendas" and various other seditious activities. These attacks, while disturbing, paradoxically are a sign of progress in Egypt's political transition.  Members of civil society…
How many more members of Congress have to be victims of politically motivated violence before we acknowledge terrorism is defined by the act and not the identity of the actor? Any person who "use[s] violence (or the threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in…
ISPU Legal Fellow Sahar Aziz was invited to testify before the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on July 18, 2012 about how to address the rise in workplace religious discrimination claims.The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission held the unprecedented public meeting with academics, representatives of the civil rights, business and federal sector communities, as well…