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Authoritarianism and Law in the Arab World



Authoritarianism in the Arab World

On September 27 at 11:00 am EST, join George Washington University’s Institute for Middle East Studies and the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP) for a virtual discussion marking the launch of a new special issue of the Arab Law Quarterly titled: “Authoritarianism in the Arab World.” The special issue, the in-print publication of which is forthcoming in October 2022, brings together young and mid-career scholars of law and policy with practitioners from and in the Arab world to unpack how the law has been leveraged by governments, lawyers, and civil society organizations to entrench, reverse, and challenge authoritarianism in the region.

Three of the issue’s authors will join in conversation with each other, with introductory remarks by the issue’s co-editor, Nathan Brown (George Washington University) and Wendy Pearlman (Northwestern University) serving as discussant. Samer Anabtawi (University College London) will present his paper on the use of strategic litigation to protect LGBTQI+ rights in Lebanon and Tunisia; Ghuna Bdiwi (University of Ottawa Faculty of Law) on the regime’s use of housing, land, and property decrees to bring about forced demographic change in Syria; and Rosalie Rubio (George Washington University) on the weaponization of counter-terrorism legislation in Jordan to silence dissent.


The Middle East Policy Forum is presented with the generous support of ExxonMobil.


  • Nathan Brown is a professor of political science at George Washington University and a nonresident senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. His two most recent books are Arguing Islam after the Revival of Arab Politics (Oxford, 2016) and Lumbering State, Restless Society: Egypt in the Modern Era (with Shimaa Hatab and Amr Adly, Columbia, 2021).

  • Wendy Pearlman is a Professor of Political Science at Northwestern University, where she also holds the Charles Deering McCormick Professorship of Teaching Excellence. Her research focuses on the comparative politics of the Middle East, social movements, political violence, refugees and migration, emotions and mobilization, and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

  •   Samer Anabtawi is a lecturer (Assistant Professor) in comparative politics at University College London (UCL). His research focuses on social movements in the MENA region, LGBTQ politics, and authoritarianism.

  • Ghuna Bdiwi is an Alex Trebek Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law. She is a lawyer and human rights activist with legal practice experience in Syria and Canada.  In Syria, her practice focused on cases that involved arbitrary detention and torture of political detainees, while in Canada, her legal work focuses on refugee and immigration law.

  •   Rosalie Rubio is a Ph.D. candidate in the department of political science at George Washington University. Her scholarship examines authoritarian politics, civil-military relations, terrorism and counterterrorism, and the implications of security policy on governance in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) with a special emphasis on intelligence institutions and Jordan.