iOS app Android app

Engy Abdelkader
GET UPDATES FROM Engy Abdelkader
Engy Abdelkader is an award-winning attorney and professor who teaches, writes and speaks about – while also serving on regional, national and international boards with an eye towards enhancing – human rights.

Abdelkader believes in the transformational power of education for individuals, communities and countries. As a child in her parents’ native Egypt, she questioned the status of some poor, rural children as domestic servants and argued that their rightful place was in school. After her first formal middle school debate, pursuant to her English teacher’s suggestion (and with her family’s blessings), she decided to pursue a career in law.

Today, Abdelkader holds two U.S. law degrees including credentials from Rutgers as well as the University of Pennsylvania Law School where she graduated with academic distinction.

Shortly after obtaining her J.D. from Rutgers, Abdelkader passed both the New York and New Jersey bar exams. In response to the post September 11th backlash against the Muslim, Arab and South Asian communities, she volunteered with the American Civil Liberties Union, American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee of New York and Center for Constitutional Rights.

To help build bridges and prevent avoidable conflicts, she also volunteered for a number of years with the U.S. Department of Justice as a cultural competency instructor on Islam, American Muslims and Arab Americans.

Abdelkader then dedicated herself to a career in legal service at a public interest law firm – winning asylum for torture survivors fleeing persecution from around the globe, securing Green Cards for abused and neglected immigrant children, empowering human trafficking victims and obtaining lawful immigration status for victims of domestic violence and gender-based violence. She also worked to raise awareness about racial and ethnic justice issues such as the over-representation of African American children in special education, post 9/11 discrimination in schools and predatory lending practices confronting communities of color. In 2009, she received an award for her legal work on behalf of torture survivors.

During this time, she co-founded the New Jersey Muslim Lawyers Association (NJMLA), and was elected first president. At the organization's helm, she helped secure the appointment of the first American Muslim judge in New Jersey while growing the organization, coordinating educational seminars and interfacing with the media and courts.

Committed to democratic processes, giving back and successive leadership, Abdelkader then went on to serve in a series of regional leadership positions that she continues to hold today. These include the New Jersey Supreme Court Board on Continuing Legal Education, New Jersey Supreme Court Committee on Minority Concerns, New Jersey State Bar Association Blue Ribbon Commission on Unmet Legal Needs, New Jersey State Bar Association Membership Committee and New Jersey State Bar Foundation Respect Editorial Newsletter.

In 2011, she joined the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, a D.C. based think tank, where she writes about the American Muslim experience and religious freedom challenges in the post 9/11 era. Her writing has been incorporated into academic texts and curricula as well as judicial trainings.

As past chair of the American Bar Association's (ABA) Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities (IRR) Committee on National Security and Civil Liberties, she engaged in policy analysis and designed cutting edge legal educational programs on 'hot button' issues of the day. During her chairmanship, the Committee received the 2014 Committee Excellence Award for providing leadership to the legal profession in protecting and advancing human rights, civil liberties and rule of law.

Amid this service, Abdelkader chose to pursue advanced legal studies at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

At Penn Law, her graduate thesis explored the intersection of women, law and Islam and her coursework focused on human rights, civil liberties and global security. She served as a teaching fellow, prevailed in a national writing competition sponsored by the American Society of Comparative Law and graduated with academic distinction. Abdelkader has since published scholarship in the Fordham International Law Journal, Asian American Law Journal at Berkley Law, University of Washington Pacific Rim Law and Policy Journal, among others.

Abdelkader now develops and instructs graduate courses on myriad aspects of international human rights law with Rutgers University’s MA Program in Political Science – Concentration in United Nations and Global Policy Studies.

She continues to give back through public service as co-chair of a new ABA IRR Committee on Religious Freedom. She works hard to protect, promote and advance freedom of religion or belief around the world as an adviser with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and a member of the U.S. State Department Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group.

Finally, Abdelkader serves as a board member of The Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, an apolitical organization dedicated to enhancing interfaith relations between Muslim and Jewish women across the country by building bridges within and between communities, challenging stereotypes and combating bias in all of its forms.

In sum, Abdelkader’s career is in service to others. And, passion, knowledge and faith have consistently informed those efforts.

Entries by Engy Abdelkader

Muslims: Savages? Victims. Saviors!

(6) Comments | Posted July 30, 2015 | 2:56 PM

As a consumer of American mass media, I've got to tell you: portrayals of Muslims leave much to be desired.

She is commonly the victim.

He, of course, is the savage.

And, lost in these maddening depictions is the savior. The hero/ine. But, wait, I mean, really -- do they...

Read Post

Politics and Prejudice: Countering Islamophobia in the 2016 Presidential Race

(6) Comments | Posted June 4, 2015 | 7:32 PM

If the last two elections are any indication, candidates in the 2016 presidential race may be tempted to engage in Muslim-bashing - playing off national security anxieties and fostering racial and religious animus - to win the vote. But anti-Muslim bigotry comes at a high cost to American Muslims, to...

Read Post

USCIRF Issues Annual International Religious Freedom Report With a Peculiar Omission

(3) Comments | Posted May 6, 2015 | 1:08 PM

Last week, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) issued its annual report documenting human rights violations globally. The report suffers from at least one peculiar omission. It left out prior analysis depicting persistent religious freedom abuses in Western Europe. And, by doing so, USCIRF -- perhaps inadvertently --...

Read Post

Religious Profiles: Another Amazing American Muslim Woman (PHOTOS)

(4) Comments | Posted February 2, 2015 | 4:32 PM

The American Muslim community is incredibly diverse -- ethnically, religiously, linguistically, ideologically, socially and economically. Mirroring that rich diversity are the myriad contributions that Muslims make in America. This is part of a series exploring that positive impact.
Part I, Part II


Muslim women...

Read Post

Religious Profiles: Michigan's American Muslim Community (PHOTOS)

(4) Comments | Posted January 6, 2015 | 10:02 AM

The American Muslim community is incredibly diverse, ethnically, religiously, linguistically, ideologically, socially and economically. Mirroring that rich diversity are the myriad contributions Muslims make in America. This is the inaugural article in a series exploring that positive impact.

We begin in Michigan -- home to the nation's largest...

Read Post

Celebrating Muslims on International Human Rights Day

(5) Comments | Posted December 8, 2014 | 12:50 PM

In 1950, following WWII's aftermath, the U.N. designated December 10 as International Human Rights Day. This year's theme -- Human Rights 365 -- reminds us that every individual is entitled to enjoy human rights every day. They include the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights set...

Read Post

For Our Children

(0) Comments | Posted July 7, 2014 | 9:09 AM

Clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in the Middle East have dominated news headlines recently.

As women of faith -- Muslim and Jewish -- we have grown increasingly alarmed, and have been saddened, by the escalation of violence and brutality.

Myriad reports of alleged kidnappings, murders and beatings --...

Read Post

Force or Choice? American Muslim Marriages (PHOTOS)

(5) Comments | Posted July 1, 2014 | 6:58 PM

Last week Amina Ajmal took the witness stand against her father, Mohamed Ajmal Choudhary, in a New York courtroom. Choudhary is charged with arranging the killings of a young man's relatives because the man had helped Amina escape a "forced marriage."

It is alleged that, a number of...

Read Post

Religious Extremism = Child Abuse?

(6) Comments | Posted March 5, 2014 | 3:37 PM

London Mayor Boris Johnson is making waves with some controversial statements concerning Muslims.

Writing for The Telegraph earlier this week, the conservative leader likened religious extremism to child abuse and called for state agencies to assume custody of Muslim kids at risk of radicalization to prevent them...

Read Post

Using the 'T' Word to Justify Human Rights Abuses

(0) Comments | Posted February 10, 2014 | 4:06 PM

From China to Burma to Egypt, some governments invoke the "T" word to justify official conduct that runs afoul of international human rights law.

Often politically motivated rather than security oriented, this trend risks endangering the very security interests officials claim to be protecting.

While sharing in the...

Read Post

Should Muslim Women Testify with a Face Veil?

(0) Comments | Posted January 30, 2014 | 11:40 AM

Should a Muslim woman remove a face-covering veil when she testifies in court? That is the issue confronting some judges in Western democratic societies.

In a Canadian criminal case that resumed earlier this month, a legal struggle spanned five years when a Muslim woman refused to remove her Niqab or...

Read Post

Study Finds Rising Religious Hostilities in Europe

(28) Comments | Posted January 17, 2014 | 1:05 PM

According to a newly released Pew Research Center study, religious hostilities around the world have reached an unfortunate six-year high. In fact, every major region of the world, with the exception of North and South America, has experienced increased religious tensions. The report makes a number of significant...

Read Post

The Future of Women's Rights in Tunisia

(0) Comments | Posted January 9, 2014 | 1:14 PM

On January 14th Tunisians will mark the third anniversary of the "Jasmine Revolution." Three years ago, three weeks of popular protests sparked by the self-immolation of a Tunisian street vendor culminated in the ouster of former Tunisian President Zine El-Abedine Ben Ali and triggered a series of events that would...

Read Post

Mosque Controversies in Europe (and Lessons Learned From the American Experience)

(9) Comments | Posted January 2, 2014 | 10:46 AM

According to a 2012 research study conducted by Pew, Muslims are the second largest religious group in Europe, constituting approximately 5.9 percent of the population. Their growing presence, attributed to an influx of migration from Muslim-majority societies, has been met by increased government restrictions on and...

Read Post

Human Trafficking: Muslim Women Vulnerable in Myanmar

(24) Comments | Posted December 26, 2013 | 1:42 PM

Amid continued communal strife in Myanmar, Muslim women and children are increasingly finding themselves in vulnerable situations that have yet to be adequately recognized and addressed. This post glimpses the related issue of human trafficking.

By way of background, Burma's record on human trafficking has prompted the United States to...

Read Post

Muslim Women and Children Confront Challenges in Myanmar

(0) Comments | Posted December 19, 2013 | 1:35 PM

"I wouldn't have to live this life if I wasn't a Muslim." -Anwar Sardad, a 10-year-old child laboring in Myanmar, October 2013

Since largely democratic elections in 2011 ushered in Thein Sein as Myanmar's president, the international community has rewarded perceived political and economic reforms with eased international sanctions, foreign...

Read Post

Meet 5 People Inspiring Peace

(1) Comments | Posted September 10, 2013 | 6:22 PM

Peace has many faces.

We often think of it as the desired goal when bringing warring parties to the bargaining table to negotiate a workable compromise.

Yet, all around the country Americans can be found working to promote a culture of peace in much more subtle ways.


Read Post

Top Ten List: Muslims Who Save Lives

(47) Comments | Posted August 3, 2013 | 5:23 PM

Last month, Rolling Stone featured Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the cover of its magazine, triggering a firestorm of outrage and controversy.

The move was widely experienced as an affront to all those whose lives were devastated by the Boston bombings. There is a concern that Tsarnaev and his ilk are...

Read Post

99.3% of Egyptian Women, Girls Have Been Sexually Harassed

(5) Comments | Posted June 4, 2013 | 2:05 PM

New research from U.N. Women finds that 99.3 percent of women have suffered sexual harassment in Egypt. Slightly less (91.5 percent) have experienced unwelcome physical contact.

Released last week, the study confirms that harassment and assault occur irrespective of a woman's appearance, conduct or manner of dress....

Read Post

Who Are the Rohingya Muslims, and Why Should We Care?

(25) Comments | Posted May 19, 2013 | 5:51 PM

On Monday, Burmese President Thein Sein is due to visit the White House. The visit represents another milestone in recently burgeoning U.S.-Burma relations, and an opportunity to engage Thein Sein on the significance of respecting international human rights norms -- such as protecting its minority Muslim population's religious freedoms --...

Read Post