Cairo Lecture: The Rise of Egyptian Justice: Native Courts in the 19th Century

Presented by: Dr. Brian Wright

  • 6:00 PM Cairo Time
  • In PersonARCE Cairo Center
    2 Midan Simon Bolivar
    Garden City Cairo Governorate 11461
  • + Add to Calendar

Lecture Information

In 1883, the Egyptian government established the Native Courts (al-Mahakim al-Ahliyya). Held in Arabic and using new legal codes, these courts were viewed by many as a major step in the development of a national judicial system and formed the foundation for the courts and laws that are still in use today. However, this change was not without its detractors and controversies, with many questions posed about the Native Courts’ effectiveness in negotiating evolving views of justice. 

Relying on periodicals not previously explored, this presentation will discuss the reception of the Native Courts. What was the connection of the courts to other legal systems in the country? How did lawyers, judges, and scholars help to shape the changing legal system? How did the courts deal with overlapping legal norms, particularly regarding Islamic law? And how did everyday Egyptians understand and respond to the court’s judgements? 

Speaker Bio

Brian Wright holds a PhD in Islamic Studies from the Institute of Islamic Studies at McGill University. His dissertation focused on the penal codes created in the Ottoman Empire, Egypt, and British India in the second half of the 19th century and how their theory and application compared with pre-modern understandings of Islamic criminal law. Beyond the scope of the dissertation, Dr. Wright is also interested in the development of modern legal systems in the Muslim World and how Islamic Law is understood and debated in contemporary Muslim contexts.