Leila Fadel

Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Las Vegas, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.

Most recently, she was NPR's international correspondent based in Cairo and covered the wave of revolts in the Middle East and their aftermaths in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, and beyond. Her stories brought us to the heart of a state-ordered massacre of pro-Muslim Brotherhood protesters in Cairo in 2013 when police shot into crowds of people to clear them and killed between 1,000 and 2,000 people. She told us the tales of a coup in Egypt and what it is like for a country to go through a military overthrow of an elected government. She covered the fall of Mosul to ISIS in 2014 and documented the harrowing tales of the Yazidi women who were kidnapped and enslaved by the group. Her coverage also included stories of human smugglers in Egypt and the Syrian families desperate and willing to pay to risk their lives and cross a turbulent ocean for Europe.

She was awarded the Lowell Thomas Award from the Overseas Press Club for her coverage of the 2013 coup in Egypt and the toll it took on the country and Egyptian families. In 2017 she earned a Gracie award for the story of a single mother in Tunisia whose two eldest daughters were brainwashed and joined ISIS. The mother was fighting to make sure it didn't happen to her younger girls.

Before joining NPR, she covered the Middle East for The Washington Post as the Cairo Bureau Chief. Prior to her position as Cairo Bureau Chief for the Post, she covered the Iraq war for nearly five years with Knight Ridder, McClatchy Newspapers, and later the Washington Post. Her foreign coverage of the devastating human toll of the Iraq war earned her the George. R. Polk award in 2007. In 2016 she was the Council on Foreign Relations Edward R. Murrow fellow.

Leila Fadel is a Lebanese-American journalist who speaks conversational Arabic and was raised in Saudi Arabia and Lebanon.

Khaled el-Balshy greets a fellow journalist with two kisses on the cheek and a hearty handshake in his office. He has just been released on bail after being charged with harboring fugitives and publishing false news.

Balshy is the undersecretary of the journalists union in Egypt, also called the Press Syndicate. Balshy; the head of the union, Yehia Qalash; and another board member, Gamal Abdel Raheem, are facing trial on Saturday and the prospect of going to prison, as President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi continues a broad crackdown on critics.

Compared to the rest of the Arab world, Morocco is doing pretty well. It may be an authoritarian monarchy but foreign investment is up, the country has a new and improved constitution and most importantly it's stable in a region awash with chaos.

And that's why many citizens of Morocco who protested or supported protests in 2011 say that for now they're just fine with the way things are. This as critics of the regime say the space for freedom of expression is at an all time low.

Constantin Ibanda Mola unlocks the door to his small, two-bedroom apartment in a poor suburb of Rabat, Morocco. 


Mola was an economist in his home country, the Democratic Republic of Congo. But as a migrant in Morocco who makes just over $300 a month, this apartment is a luxury. He shows me the tiny kitchen, the little balcony that opens near the sink and his bedroom.

"I'm very happy here," he says.

Olfa Hamrouni sits in a café in central Tunis and recounts how she lost her two oldest daughters to ISIS.

Their story starts — as many stories about teenagers do — with a mother's attempt to curb her children's behavior. The older girls were getting a little rebellious, playing wild music and wearing skull-and-bones T-shirts. They'd been acting out, she says, since their father left the family with no money and no support.

"After the divorce, the two girls were lost. They didn't know what to do. My oldest girl, Ghofran, she was looking for a reason to live," she says.

Ben Guerdane is a dusty town in Tunisia's south, just 20 miles from the border with Libya, a roiling nation of militias and guns galore. It's a smuggling town, and it depends on the nearly 300-mile border with Libya to survive.

In more normal times, it's everyday products that get smuggled, but these days something more nefarious is coming across that border — weapons and militants.

The spillover from the conflict in Libya is setting off alarm bells in Tunisia, threatening a fragile democracy in the one place that emerged from the 2011 Arab revolts as a bright spot.

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In northeast Scotland, there is a cluster of homes on the outskirts of a pristine golf course near Aberdeen owned by none other than Donald Trump. The U.S. presidential hopeful's business venture promised thousands of jobs, tourism and a new way to diversify the oil economy.

Trump wanted to build the golf course in Scotland, he said, because his mother was born there. But almost a decade later, he has angered his neighbors and turned some of his former supporters against him.

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Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron promised back in 2010 to bring net migration down to 100,000 people a year. Six years later, it's more than three times that number.

That's one reason the government's Home Office decided that non-Europeans on skilled worker visas — known as Tier 2 visas — are not welcome to stay unless they are making at least 35,000 British pounds (about $50,000 a year).

Egypt has an unusual law known as the "seasonal marriage" law, and the government says it's aimed at helping the many poor families who resort to selling their daughters into temporary or long-term marriages with wealthy, older foreign men to support themselves.

Egypt's Justice Ministry says it will begin strictly enforcing that law, which requires foreign men — usually from Gulf countries — to pay to marry women 25 years or more their junior. And it's increasing the amount the men must pay. All this, it says, is to protect Egyptian women.

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In January, Dr. Raslan Fadl was convicted after one of his patients, a young girl called Soheir al Batea, died under his care.

But Fadl hasn't served a day behind bars.

Soheir was 13 years old when her parents took her to Fadl to undergo a procedure that's a rite of passage for most girls here in the Nile Delta — genital cutting.

It's known around here as "cleansing," but most people call it female genital mutilation or female circumcision — a procedure that has been illegal in Egypt since 2008.

In Egypt, one of the country's most prominent rights defenders, Hossam Bahgat, was detained and is being interrogated on charges of publishing false news that could harm the nation.

Recently Bahgat, 36, has emerged as a standout investigative journalist in a country where much of the news media has been cowed into toeing the state line.

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For generations, John Harris's family has arranged lavish funerals for Cockney East Enders. But London is changing, and Harris has been quick to adapt.

He watches the latest procession go by: Two regal white horses with plumes of feathers fastened to their foreheads, trot through an East End borough, drawing a gleaming white Victorian carriage. Inside is a coffin bedecked with flowers. Eight black, custom-made Jaguar limos follow. The conductors wear three-piece suits with coattails and top hats and carry canes.

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Architecture professor Soheir Zaki Hawas has dedicated her life to documenting the beautiful historic buildings in downtown Cairo and to trying to preserve them.

"Heritage is the memory of a city," Hawas says. "If I lose my memory for five minutes, I will not be able to introduce myself to tell you anything about anything."

She pulls her book off the coffee table in her living room; it took her years to document the buildings in downtown Cairo.

"I want to show you this page here," she says, flipping through the book. "This is a beautiful catalogue."

Arwa Alneami's latest art project is called the "Drop Zone," named after the vertical, free-fall amusement park ride.

Her work is made up of photographs and videos from a theme park in her hometown of Abha, in southern Saudi Arabia. The rules for women there have become so strict that the park has signs telling them they can't scream loudly on the rides.

"You should hear the voice of the ladies, they cannot scream," she says, and then imitates the stifled screams of the women clad entirely in black in her videos.

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In 2013, there were seven known militants from the village that Ahmed Abu Deraa comes from in Egypt's northern Sinai Peninsula. Today, that number has jumped to about 60, says Abu Deraa, an independent journalist who sometimes works for NPR. All of them are with Sinai Province, the local affiliate of the so-called Islamic State.

The Sinai's militants are all gathering under the ISIS umbrella, Abu Deraa says. But what they're fighting for isn't some grand regional cause.

Mahmoud Abou Zeid, known as the freelance photographer Shawkan, has been behind bars in Egypt for 705 days without charge. Today's hearing to either renew his time in jail or release him was postponed. His detention continues.

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