On October 29, 2012, Shahira Amin, an independent journalist and activist in Egypt, shared her experiences and thoughts about the dramatic changes that are currently taking place in the Middle East and North Africa.
The lecture, hosted by Sam Houston State University’s new Global Center for Journalism and Democracy, took place in the James and Nancy Gaertner Performing Arts Center Concert Hall.
Kelli Arena, executive director for the GCJD and Dan Rather Endowed Chair of Journalism at SHSU, said Amin perfectly represents the center’s purpose as a woman who is “truly representative of the many brave people in Egypt who have fought for democracy and freedom of the press.”
GCJD was established this semester to provide resources, on the ground training, and online courses to journalists all over the world.
Amin, who currently writes for Egypt’s Index on Censorship, Daily News Egypt and Ria Novosti, was deputy head of the state-owned Nile TV and a lead anchor/correspondent but quit during last year's mass uprising in protest at her station's coverage of the demonstrations in Tahrir Square.
“Shahira started reporting on the Arab Spring but the government didn’t like what she had to say. She was committed to telling the truth and very publicly walked out. That in itself was a dangerous act of defiance,” Arena said.
Amin’s work garnered recognition by numerous international agencies, and she has received such awards as the 2011 Homes of the Year Award from Goteburg University in Sweden, the Juan Anguita Award from Cordoba University in Spain, and the Catalyst For Change Award from the American University in Cairo. Amin has also been recognized by UNICEF (2009) for her efforts to improve the status of women and children and by the National Council for Childhood in her native Egypt for "helping bring into effect the law criminalizing female genital mutilation” (2008). Amin is also a longtime contributor to CNN, reporting from Cairo and other North African capitals for Inside Africa.
The danger journalists such as Amin are placing themselves in by speaking out is something that people in America may be surprised to learn about but should definitely be aware of, according to Arena.
“It’s easy to sit in New York or Washington and write about what you think should be happening in Egypt, but she’s not speaking out from outside the country like a lot of people are,” Arena said. “Shahira is in Egypt, she is very vulnerable; she’s right in the pit and she just refuses to be silent.
“The center is committed to bringing those brave people the resources and training to do their jobs better. Shahira was a perfect pick for our first speaker, she’s very powerful.”
While in Huntsville, Amin toured one of the prison facilities, conducted a taped interview with Arena that was broadcast on Cable Channel 7 and answered questions from global media classes at SHSU.
GCJD IN THE NEWS WITH SHAHIRA AMIN
Global Center for Journalism and Democracy
Dan Rather Communications Building, Room 201, Huntsville, TX 77340