Benefit Dinner 2011 Awardees
Shahira Amin ’78
Journalist and Former Deputy Head of
Nile TV International
Shahira Amin is an Egyptian freelance journalist and former deputy head of Nile TV International. She quit her job on February 3, 2011, during the Egyptian uprising, in protest against state TV coverage of the events in Tahrir. Amin also served as senior anchor and correspondent at Nile TV for 22 years. She has covered numerous international events and interviewed heads of state and dignitaries including US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, former Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres, former President of Chile Michelle Bachelet, Ugandan President Yuweri Musevini, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and many others.
She is also a freelance contributor to CNN's Inside Africa and has filed many feature stories on female genital mutilation, the plight of Sudanese refugees, discrimination against Copts, the Wahhabi influence on Egyptian culture and the arts, domestic violence, the Nile Water dispute and others. Amin covered the 2008-2009 war on Gaza reporting from the Rafah border crossing; she reported on sectarian tensions on the Thai/Malaysian border, the Sharm el Sheikh bombings, the food crisis summit in Rome, the launch of the Union for the Mediterranean in France, among other events.
She now writes for CNN.com and continues to contribute stories to Inside Africa from the North Africa region. She has twice won CNN's Best News Report Award for her contributions to World Report (2004 and 2009) and has been recognized by UNICEF for her efforts to combat female genital mutilation.
Amr Waked ’96
Actor and Political Activist
Amr Waked is an Egyptian film, television, and stage actor, known for his roles portraying Middle Eastern and Mediterranean characters. He is best known to international audiences and in Hollywood as the terrorist leader in the 2005 film Syriana. Waked joined the 2011 Egyptian anti-government protests.
From the outset, Waked was an active participant in the January 25 Egyptian revolution.
He has since been regarded as “one of the symbols” of the revolution.
Following the ouster of President Muhammed Hosni Mubarak, Waked helped found the National Front for Justice and Democracy.
In June 2010, he was named Regional Goodwill Ambassador for the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and in May 2011,
Waked was named Oxfam's ambassador.
Ben Wedeman ’81
CNN Senior International Correspondent
Ben Wedeman is CNN's senior international correspondent based in Cairo, Egypt. Since 1995, he has reported on scenes of conflict and tension across the Middle East and northern Africa for the network. Recently, he has been closely following the Arab Spring during which human rights and political activists frequently clashed with government forces in their quest for democracy. In 2011, he led the network's coverage of the uprising against Egyptian President Mubarak and the unrest in the Middle East. He was the first western journalist to enter eastern Libya after the start of the revolution.
Other career highlights included serving as a correspondent in CNN's Jerusalem bureau and in Amman, where he assumed the role of CNN’s bureau chief. He was the first reporter to break the news of the release of kidnapped BBC journalist Alan Johnston in Gaza in July 2007, and also secured the first interview with Marianne Pearl, wife of kidnapped - and later executed - Wall Street Journal reporter, Daniel Pearl.
Wedeman has been with CNN since 1994 and his reporting has received an Emmy and an Edward R. Murrow Award for his coverage of the brutal civil war in Sierra Leone. Wedeman is fluent in Arabic, Italian and French, has a working knowledge of Hebrew, and has studied Japanese, Russian, Farsi, ancient Egyptian, and classical and contemporary Mongolian.