Engy Abdelkader is a scholar, researcher and educator who teaches graduate seminars on international human rights law as well as undergraduate writing courses at Rutgers University. Her scholarship explores the intersection of religion, law and society with a particular focus on Muslims and Islam.
As a senior fellow at Georgetown University, Abdelkader participated in colloquia and conferences by invitation and pursuant to calls for papers, including at Harvard, UC Berkley and Notre Dame; organized a joint international conference with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe that addressed bigotry and discrimination; authored one of the most widely cited research reports exploring the relationship between anti-Muslim political rhetoric and acts and threats of violence directed against the minority faith community during the 2016 U.S. presidential election cycle; and participated in United Nations meetings as an invited expert.
Prior to joining Georgetown, and while previously teaching at Rutgers, her efforts – from leading international workshops ensuring access to education and employment for women to presenting at the European Parliament to organizing an academic conference with Georgetown's Berkley Center highlighting human rights abuses against religious minorities – have been recognized by a number of entities including the German Marshall Fund of the United States where she was invited to join a transatlantic leadership program.
Abdelkader has a long record of working for under-represented and marginalized communities. In the aftermath of 9/11, for instance, she volunteered as a cooperating attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR). While she researched the intersection of race, religion and terrorism at the ACLU, she provided research support to CCR attorneys litigating a lawsuit on behalf of Maher Arar -– the first publicized case of “extraordinary rendition,” the U.S. government practice of sending individuals to countries with deplorable human rights records to be tortured in connection with suspected terrorist activity.
Previously, as a public interest attorney, she successfully litigated cases on behalf of indigent immigrant survivors of violence fleeing religious, political and other persecution around the world while undertaking research, writing, and lecturing about racial, ethnic and social justice issues. At this time, she co-founded and was elected the first president of the New Jersey Muslim Lawyers Association (NJMLA), a specialty bar organization dedicated to addressing the needs of Muslim American attorneys in the New Jersey area. As NJMLA’s first president, she met with then New Jersey Governor Jon S. Corzine’s staff about enhancing diversity in the judiciary and helped secure the appointment of the first Muslim American judge to the Superior Court of New Jersey.
Her commitment to public service was recognized by a variety of entities, ultimately culminating in appointments to the New Jersey Supreme Court Board on Continuing Legal Education, New Jersey Supreme Court Committee on Minority Concerns, New Jersey State Bar Foundation Respect Editorial Advisory Board, New Jersey State Bar Association Diversity and Membership Committees and American Bar Association Committees on National Security and Civil Rights and the Committee on Religious Freedom, respectively.
As chairperson of the ABA Committee on National Security and Civil Liberties (Section on Civil Rights and Social Justice), her committee’s work earned the 2014 Committee Excellence Award for providing leadership on human rights, civil rights, and the rule of law. The Obama White House also recognized her groundbreaking voice as featured in or covered by the Huffington Post, TIME, Christian Science Monitor, CNN, Washington Post, National Geographic, Newseum Institute, among others.
Notably, Abdelkader holds two U.S. law degrees including credentials from Rutgers Law School and the University of Pennsylvania Law School where she graduated with academic distinction.