Advocating for People in Crisis
Mohamed Mohamed became involved with humanitarian causes from a young age. In 2008, while in high school and living in North Sinai near the Gaza Strip, he helped the Red Crescent provide relief to people injured during the war in Gaza. He continued to be involved with humanitarian action in Egypt, which shaped his career path.
Mohamed, a Fulbright Scholar, is now at Stetson University College of Law working on his LL.M. in International Law. He graduated from Al-Azhar University’s law school in Cairo in 2014. While there, Mohamed formed a relationship with an international law professor named Ahmed Tawfik who does work with the United Nations and UNICEF.
“I just thought that I want to be like him,” Mohamed said. “He is my role model in law school.”
After graduating law school, Mohamed completed an internship at a Christian social welfare organization called Diakonie in Mannheim, Germany. He was assigned to work with Arabic-speaking refugees, providing legal aid on during their process of seeking asylum in Germany.
“Some people just stay for six months, and then others stay years just to get their status,” Mohamed said about the refugees he worked with from Syria, Iraq, Somalia and other countries.
Mohamed worked with refugees during the middle phase of their transition from entering Germany and obtaining asylum. During this middle stage, refugees live at a camp before moving to a permanent camp or apartment. Mohamed said the German government and organizations like Diakonie provide services, such as German language classes, to help refugees integrate into society after they obtain asylum in the country.
“They make them very welcome there,” he said.
After the internship, Mohamed learned that he received a prestigious job in the Egyptian government working at Al-Azhar — the largest Sunni Muslim institution in the world. He handled legal affairs for Imam Ahmed El Tayyeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar.
“He is a man who really loves peace,” Mohamed said. “He does a great job spreading the culture of peace.”
The legal consultant office where Mohamed worked was responsible for ensuring compliance with international protocols, investigating complaints, and working with other religious leaders and institutions. While working in Cairo, the Grand Imam sent Mohamed to South Africa for a work mission as a member of peace convoy, and he lectured in mosques, churches, schools and at a radio station.
Mohamed said he learned about Stetson through the Fulbright Program. Through his own research, he learned about the advocacy program and read about other students’ positive experiences at Stetson. Mohamed said the small class sizes and openness of the administration appealed to him. While here, he hopes to develop his advocacy and negotiation and mediation skills.
“My main concern was dealing with administration and making sure I got the best education opportunity I could because it happens only once in my lifetime,” Mohamed said. “So I wanted to make sure I chose correctly.”
Mohamed said he is very happy with his choice.
“I just feel that I am in my home country,” Mohamed said. “Not only my home country, but my home, from the first day here at Stetson.”
After completing his LL.M., Mohamed has a few options in mind for his next move. He said his top option is returning to humanitarian work. He would also like to return to Al-Azhar to develop global interfaith projects, such as with the Vatican or the Council of Churches, or other projects that promote peace.
“Especially because there is tension in the Middle East,” he said.
Mohamed said he believes lawyers have a responsibility to help people who may need legal aid, no matter what circumstances people are in.
“Of course they have a moral responsibility toward people,” Mohamed said. “Not only for people who have a crisis, but for people who are in need.”
-By Kai Su