LU faculty member presenting at NATO seminar in Sicily

Sanaz Alasti

Sanaz Alasti, assistant professor of criminal justice at Lamar University and an Iran native, has been invited to present her research at the fifth seminar organized by the International Institute of Higher Studies in Criminal Sciences, in co-operation with the NATO School. This year’s seminar will focus on “Shari’a Law and Military Operations” in the Middle East.

Scheduled Nov. 19-24 at the institute headquarters in Siracusa, Sicily, the seminar will provide instruction on Shari’a Law by international scholars to officials and advisors from NATO member countries. Faculty members are invited from all around the world to cover a broad variety of issues such as crime and punishment in Shari’a Law, law of armed conflict, religiously motivated political violence, women’s and minorities’ rights and operational issues.

Alasti’s presentation will cover comparative criminal justice systems in the Middle East.

“There is a difference from secular and religious criminal justice systems,” Alasti said. “There are religious criminal justice systems in the Middle East. So my presentation will focus on criminal justice systems in the Middle East and crime and punishment in religious law, what is called Shari’a Law.”

This conference is unique in that it strays from familiar Western law and its surrounding issues to instruct NATO officials in laws of the Middle East and how religious law differs from secular law. Attendees to the seminar will receive certification of completion at the end of their training.

“Usually when you attend a seminar or conference, the attendees are scholars, graduate students from my field, or criminologists,” Alasti said. “At this seminar, the attendees are NATO officers, legal advisors and judges, so I believe it will be a different experience to work with them as opposed to scholars in my field.”

Alasti did post-doctoral research in comparative studies of capital punishment at Harvard School of Law in 2011. She received her doctor of judicial science degree from Golden Gate University School of Law in 2008, a master of law from Tehran University School of Law in Iran in 2003, and a bachelor of law from Allame Tabatabaee University School of Law in Iran in 2001.

Stuart Wright, chair of the Department of Sociology, Social Work and Criminal Justice at Lamar, said Alasti brings an international perspective on capital punishment to the university in the area of criminal justice.

“We are absolutely delighted to have her,” he said. “I get unsolicited compliments from students about her all of the time.”

The benefits of going to international conferences go beyond the presentation and travel experience, Wright said.

“You find new networks that you wouldn’t have otherwise been able to attack,” he said. “Sometimes those networks yield all sorts of opportunities to publish. And anytime it is a NATO-affiliated conference where they pay your expenses to go to some exotic place, in this case the Mediterranean, in the company of some very impressive international scholars, it is a really big deal.”