Leila Fadel

Leila Fadel is NPR's international correspondent based in Cairo.

Before joining NPR, she covered the Middle East for The Washington Post. In her role as Cairo Bureau Chief she reported on a wave of revolts and their aftermaths in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, and Syria.

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.

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

It was never in doubt, but now it's official. Ex-military chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will be Egypt's president after nearly a year of being the nation's de facto leader.

He won by a landslide with more than 93 percent of the vote, according to a preliminary results. His victory was so sweeping that his lone opponent, Hamdeen Sabbahy, came in third with just 3 percent of the vote. People who voided their ballots in protest outnumbered those who voted for Sabbahy.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, BYLINE: This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Former military chief Abdel Fattah el-Sissi is expected to emerge victorious from Egypt's two-day polling, which began Monday. But the country remains divided.

Hope is fading that any more mine workers will be rescued from a mine in western Turkey, where over 280 miners died after an explosion. NPR's Leila Fadel has been at the mine and offers more details.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. Today brought another shocking sentence from an Egyptian court. A judge issued death sentences for nearly 700 people accused of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood movement. They were charged with committing violence during unrest last summer. This is from the same judge who outraged rights groups last month by sentencing more than 500 people to death. Today, he commuted all but 37 of those cases to life in prison.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. In Cairo today, three journalists with the al-Jazeera English channel were back in court. They're accused of being terrorists and spreading false information and it's a case causing international condemnation. The journalists have now been in jail for more than 100 days, part of a wide crackdown on Islamists, critics of the government and the press.

More than 500 people in Matea, Egypt, have been sentenced to death. On one street alone, a juice store owner, a sweets shop owner, a doctor and more than 20 others have been condemned.

Egypt's legal system has already been under scrutiny with a raft of high-profile cases that include two ousted presidents and scores of activists. And a new wave of international criticism is building after an Egyptian court sentenced 529 men to death after a two-day trial.

The judge sentenced the men for the killing of a police officer. They were also charged with arson, inciting violence and other crimes in the province of Minya, just south of Cairo.

Not one but two ousted presidents are on trial. In cages. As are a group of journalists from the Al Jazeera satellite channel. Then there are the countless activists facing charges that are widely seen as politically motivated.

If you like courtroom dramas, Egypt is the place to be these days. And while there's no shortage of high-profile trials, analysts say one thing hasn't changed in the three tumultuous years since the overthrow of the autocratic Hosni Mubarak: There's still no guarantee of a fair trial for the accused.

In Libya, disputes are settled by guns.

On a recent day, just west of Tripoli, the Libyan capital, gunfire erupts, a battle between two families. It builds for hours; people run for cover. No one intervenes — even though a Libyan army base is just a mile away.

Inside that military camp in a town called Zawiya are 230 young men from across the North African nation, part of the government effort to address the country's most glaring problem: an almost nonexistent security force.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Now, to Cairo where the spotlight is on an important case in the government's crackdown on press freedoms. Three jailed journalists for the al-Jazeera English channel were taken to their first court hearing today. Their arrest nearly two months ago has been denounced by rights groups. As NPR's Leila Fadel reports, they were denied bail today in a short but dramatic appearance.

In 2011, I crossed the border with other journalists into a country that had been cut off from the world for 42 years. We had no idea what to expect as we entered what the rebels were calling "Free Libya."

Where before there had been oppressive security, instead what greeted us was a motley group of ecstatic young men with guns who welcomed journalists to the land they'd liberated. There was no passport control, no rules and a sense of relief that the world would finally hear their stories.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. This month marks the third anniversary of Libya's uprising against a brutal dictator, Moammar Gadhafi. After a bloody civil war, he was ousted and later killed - and now Libya is trying to rebuild itself. But the process has been slow. The divided nation still has a weak government and is awash with weapons. NPR's Leila Fadel has just returned from Tripoli and joins us from Cairo. Leila, thanks so much for being with us.

LEILA FADEL, BYLINE: Thanks for having me.

Here are three numbers that tell the story of Egypt's security crackdown, its political turmoil and the simmering insurgency.

16,687. It's estimated that at least this many political detainees have been imprisoned since the military ousted the Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, on July 3.

4,482. At least this many people have been killed in clashes since Morsi's ouster, many at the hands of security forces.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

In Cairo today, former President Mohammed Morsi appeared in court for the second time since he was ousted in a military coup last July. The Islamist leader wore a white prison uniform and stood in a glass-enclosed cage. As NPR's Leila Fadel reports, Morsi faces charges that could lead to the death penalty.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Now, to Egypt where there were more indications today that the country's top military chief is preparing to run for president. The armed forces announced on state television that Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi should, in their words, heed the call of the people and run for president in an election expected to be held within the next three months.

NPR's Leila Fadel joins us now from Cairo. Hi, Leila.

LEILA FADEL, BYLINE: Hi.

SIEGEL: And does this mean that Egypt's military chief is definitely running for president?

Three years after the start of the 2011 revolution, many of the young secular activists who led the protests are behind bars.

Others have gone silent, afraid to speak out as the military and the ousted Muslim Brotherhood are locked in a battle for Egypt itself.

For most of those revolutionaries, this is a dark and bitter time.

Mohamed Yousef is a tall, handsome practitioner of kung fu. In fact, he's an Egyptian champion who recently won an international competition.

But a month ago, when he collected his gold medal at the championship in Russia, he posed for a picture after putting on a yellow T-shirt with a hand holding up four fingers.

That's the symbol of Rabaa al-Adawiya, the Cairo square where Egyptian security forces opened fire in August on supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. Hundreds were killed, including seven of Yousef's friends.

For nearly three years Egyptians have battled for a different, and better, future. But the transition has been tumultuous, filled with pitfalls, death and disappointment.

Today, many are ready to settle for a return to the pre-revolution status quo: a strong, military man who can guide Egypt back to stability.

At the Kakao lounge in central Cairo, teenage girls sample chocolates that bear the face of Egyptian military chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. The chocolates depict Sissi in sunglasses, Sissi saluting and Sissi's face in ornate chocolate frames.

Gun-toting militiamen man the steel gate that leads into the Tripoli zoo. A sign promises a garden of animals. Inside, there are paths that meander through a maze of cages and animal habitats. Monkeys climb trees; hippos submerge themselves in water and lions lounge in the heat.

Just a few hundred yards away, there's a different kind of cage: Inside there are people — migrants waiting to be deported or to prove they are in Libya legally.

Zintan, a mountain town in northwestern Libya, is a place of gray and brown buildings, with little infrastructure, about 50,000 people and no central government control.

The Libyan government doesn't provide basic services, not even water. People use wells to provide for themselves. The local council runs all of Zintan's affairs out of a building in the center of town.

At the local militia base on the outskirts of town, we meet the keeper of Saif el-Islam Gadhafi, the son and one-time heir apparent of Moammar Gadhafi.

Mohammed is a teacher, and for the past 17 years, he has also worked with an Islamic charity in Cairo. But a little more than two weeks ago that charity was shut down.

Security forces raided its office, took everything and began searching for the head of the board of directors because he's connected to the Muslim Brotherhood — the Islamist group of ousted President Mohammed Morsi.

Mohammed, who asked that only his first name be used, fled.

Nagwa, Dina and May are sisters. All three are married, all three have children. All three had always been close — until now.

Egypt's political crisis is changing those relationships. Nagwa and May sympathize with the Muslim Brotherhood. Dina, on the other hand, supports the military, arguing that the generals are just keeping extremists at bay.

For Tunisia's ruling Islamist party, Ennahda, what happened this summer in Egypt is a cautionary tale and a constant reminder of the risks it faces as it navigates through its own political crisis.

In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood easily dominated all post-revolutionary elections, only to be ousted by the military in July. Brotherhood supporters now carry yellow placards, a reminder of the military crackdown, and that same placard now hangs on Ennahda's headquarters in the Tunisian capital, Tunis.

Egypt is quieter these days. Protests against the ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi have subsided for now. And the military-appointed interim government is firmly in charge.

Yet, Egypt remains deeply polarized. And the middle is a lonely place to be.

Some of the young revolutionaries who led the 2011 uprising against the regime of Hosni Mubarak feel they are back to square one, battling authoritarian forces on both sides.

Pages