Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson

International correspondent Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson is based in Berlin and covers Central Europe for NPR. Her reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning programs including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

She was previously based in Cairo and covered the Arab World for NPR from the Middle East to North Africa. Nelson returns to Egypt on occasion to cover the tumultuous transition to democracy there.

In 2006, Nelson opened the NPR Kabul Bureau. During the following three and a half years, she gave listeners in an in-depth sense of life inside Afghanistan, from the increase in suicide among women in a country that treats them as second class citizens to the growing interference of Iran and Pakistan in Afghan affairs. For her coverage of Afghanistan, she won a Peabody Award, Overseas Press Club Award and the Gracie in 2010. She received the Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award from Colby College in 2011 for her coverage in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

Nelson spent 20 years as newspaper reporter, including as Knight Ridder's Middle East Bureau Chief. While at the Los Angeles Times, she was sent on extended assignment to Iran and Afghanistan following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. She spent three years an editor and reporter for Newsday and was part of the team that won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for covering the crash of TWA Flight 800.

A graduate of the University of Maryland, Nelson speaks Farsi, Dari and German.

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Europe
2:16 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

As Putin Rides Wave Of Popularity, Opposition May Get Swept Under

Originally published on Tue April 22, 2014 4:38 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

In Russia, President Vladimir Putin is enjoying unprecedented public support for his recent annexation of Crimea. His pledge to protect Russian, speaking citizens elsewhere in Ukraine, by military force if necessary, is also wildly popular. Putin is banking on that support as he moves to quash another perceived threat: His political opponents at home.

NPR Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson went to Moscow for that story.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken)

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News
2:23 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Out Of A Tough Day Of Diplomacy, A Surprising Deal On Ukraine

Originally published on Thu April 17, 2014 6:06 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

A deal now that could possibly ease the tensions in eastern Ukraine. The U.S., Europe, Russia and Ukraine came to an agreement that calls on multinational monitors to oversee steps to restore order. The deal would likely delay any new sanctions against Russia. President Obama has already cast doubt on whether the Russian's will cooperate. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson has more.

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Europe
2:17 pm
Fri April 4, 2014

As Pressures Mount On Putin, Analysts Wonder What He Hopes To Gain

Originally published on Fri April 4, 2014 4:18 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

U.S.-Russia relations have deteriorated since Russia's annexation of Crimea and there are still questions over Russian President Vladimir Putin's agenda in Ukraine and Eastern Europe. Targeted sanctions, political isolation and NATO's plans to beef up its presence in Eastern Europe haven't persuaded Putin to change course.

NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson has more from Moscow.

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Parallels
1:29 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Not An April Fools' Joke: Russians Petition To Get Alaska Back

Russians in Moscow's Red Square hold banners reading, "Love You Crimea!" "Together For All Time" and "Obama, Think About Alaska!" during a March 18 rally celebrating the annexation of Crimea.
Sergei Ilnitsky EPA/Landov

Originally published on Tue April 1, 2014 2:35 pm

President Vladimir Putin's annexation of Crimea is reigniting talk in Russia of taking back Alaska from the United States, which purchased the territory from a czar for $7.2 million nearly a century and a half ago.

Most of the talk is tongue-in-cheek, but it comes at a time of heightened sensitivity in the West over whether Russia is planning further incursions or land grabs.

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Europe
10:17 am
Sun March 30, 2014

Caught Between Russia And Ukraine, Border Cities Share Only Worry

Demonstrators carry a giant Russian flag through Kharkiv, Ukraine, earlier this month. The city's population is a blend of Ukranians and Russians, many of whom share families across the Russian border.
Sergey Kozlov AP

Originally published on Sun March 30, 2014 3:59 pm

The deployment of tens of thousands of Russian troops along their country's western border with Ukraine worries the new government in Kiev and its Western allies, including President Obama.

In a phone call Friday, he asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to pull those forces back, a demand likely to be repeated by Secretary of State John Kerry when he meets with his Russian counterpart in Paris Sunday.

But people in the Russian border city of Belgorod, one of the places where troops have been gathering, say they can't understand why the U.S. is making such a fuss.

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Parallels
1:32 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

With Ribbons, Russians Show Support For Takeover In Crimea

Russian lawmaker Leonid Slutsky wears a ribbon to show support for Russia's takeover of Crimea. The same symbol is used to mark the Soviet victory in WWII and dates back centuries.
Alexander Zemlianichenko AP

It's hard to keep up with the vast array of colored ribbons that convey causes around the world, especially when the same color has multiple meanings. Red ones, for example, represent AIDS awareness but also drunk driving prevention, among other things.

Last week, deputies in the Russian parliament, or Duma, adopted their own ribbon to signal approval for Russia's takeover of Crimea – ones with black and orange stripes.

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World
3:01 am
Mon March 17, 2014

EU Rejects Crimean Vote, Weighs Sanctions Against Russia

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 4:19 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And as Eleanor just told Renee, the government in Kiev says the world is with them, and not with Russia.

Let's bring in NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson into this conversation. She's in Berlin. She's been monitoring the European reaction to the vote in Crimea.

And, Soraya, as we mentioned, the EU, like the United States, threatening sanctions against Russia. EU foreign ministers are actually meeting today to draw some up and take a vote. What exactly are these sanctions?

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News
2:21 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Germany Changes Its Tone On Russia, And EU Sanctions May Follow

Originally published on Thu March 13, 2014 4:35 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

The chancellor of Germany is warning Russia to step back from its confrontation with the West over Ukraine.

CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL: (Foreign language spoken)

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Europe
2:00 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

In Kiev, Leaders Ink A Deal — But Will The People Follow?

Originally published on Fri February 21, 2014 5:53 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

An uneasy calm settled over Kiev today since opposition leaders signed a peace deal with Ukraine's president, Viktor Yanukovych. But after three days of fighting left scores of people dead, protesters are still trying to decide if the deal is worth the sacrifice. Despite their demands, Yanukovych remains in place, although there will be early elections.

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Europe
2:19 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

From The Streets Of Kiev, A Firsthand Look At the Protests

Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 6:02 pm

Police in Kiev continue to try to clear protesters from the streets of the Ukrainian capital, where violence has left both police and demonstrators dead.

Parallels
2:18 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Iran's Nuclear Talks: What To Expect Next

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (right) speaks during a joint press conference with his Swedish counterpart Carl Bildt in Tehran on Tuesday. Bildt is visiting to try to bolster the temporary nuclear deal on Iran's nuclear program.
Behrouz Mehri AFP/Getty Images

The next round of Iranian nuclear talks with world powers is fast approaching, and there's still a lot of skepticism in the air over the prospects for a comprehensive deal.

Iran will sit down with the U.S. and five other major powers in Vienna on Feb. 18 as they try to hammer out a long-term agreement on the Islamic Republic's nuclear program. By most every estimate, it won't be easy to build on the success of a temporary deal drawn up last November given the lingering, visceral mistrust between the United States and Iran.

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Parallels
2:55 am
Sat February 1, 2014

Germany's New Defense Minister: More Peacekeeping Missions Welcome

Germany's new defense minister, Ursula von der Leyen, right, chats with German soldiers who have served in Afghanistan, at a training center in Letzlingen on Jan. 28. Von der Leyen has said she would like to see German forces participate more with other European troops in foreign peacekeeping missions.
Thomas Trutschel Photothek via Getty Images

Originally published on Sat February 1, 2014 10:00 pm

Many Germans were surprised in December when Ursula von der Leyen was named the country's first female defense minister.

Some people questioned whether a medical doctor with seven children, who championed Germany's generous parental leave policy, was the right choice to shepherd the country's military through the challenges of being a newly minted volunteer force.

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The Two-Way
2:39 pm
Sun January 26, 2014

Heinrich Himmler's Private Letters Published In German Newspaper

Heinrich Himmler (left) and Adolf Hitler (third from left) observe Stormtroop maneuvers in January 1941.
Keystone Getty Images

Originally published on Sun January 26, 2014 4:00 pm

"The Handwriting of a Mass Murderer" is how Germany's Die Welt newspaper bills its eight-part series featuring excerpts of Heinrich Himmler's personal letters accompanied by family photos, which are reportedly being published for the first time.

(An English-language version is here.)

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Afghanistan
2:42 am
Sat January 18, 2014

Restaurant Owner Loved The Patrons He Died Trying To Protect

Kamal Hamade, the owner of the Taverna du Liban, had taken many steps to make his restaurant secure, and it was one of the few that Western agencies allowed their personnel to frequent.
Rahmat Gul AP

Originally published on Mon January 20, 2014 6:04 am

Taverna du Liban was a welcome respite from the pressures of living in a third-world war zone.

The cozy, Kabul restaurant with its Middle Eastern décor served up a tasty variety of Lebanese dishes and the best chocolate cake I've ever eaten, courtesy of the Lebanese owner, Kamal Hamade, who baked the cakes himself.

But the appeal of Taverna — where I ate nearly every week when I lived in Afghanistan — was about much more than the food. It was about friendship.

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The Salt
3:11 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

German Farmers Fear For Europe's Bacon With U.S. Trade Deal

German farmer Rudolf Buehler and other opponents of the Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement protest with 17 pigs in front of the chancellor's office building in Berlin on Wednesday.
Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson NPR

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 7:12 pm

When German farmers and activists descended upon Chancellor Angela Merkel's office building Wednesday morning, they brought along some special guests — 17 pigs. The stunt was the latest European backlash against a proposed free trade deal with the U.S. that could lift restrictions on American meat sold in Europe.

Under the watchful eye of German police officers, the pigs munched happily on straw strewn across the pavement to keep the herd from running amok.

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Parallels
1:00 am
Fri January 10, 2014

Despite Dim Prospects, Syrian Exodus To Germany Continues

Syrian refugees arriving at the transit camp in Friedland, Germany, stand in line at the registration desk on Sept. 11. Germany has deported asylum seekers on the basis of an EU treaty that requires migrants seeking entry to Europe to be processed by the first EU country they arrive in. Many Syrians in Germany have come from other countries such as Bulgaria or Greece.
Swen Pfortner DPA/Landov

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 10:45 am

Human rights officials say the Syrian civil war is creating Europe's biggest refugee crisis in decades, but that countries across the continent are doing little about it.

Most European nations are refusing to take in Syrian refugees, choosing instead to send money to the United Nations and other international agencies. The few EU countries like Germany that are welcoming Syrians only offer refuge to a few thousand out of the more than 2 million Syrians who have fled their homeland.

But the cool reception isn't stopping Syrians from risking their lives to get to Europe.

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World
2:27 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

Berlin Clinic Aims To Make Genital Cutting Survivors Feel Whole

The Desert Flower Center, created by Somali model Waris Dirie, opened in Berlin in September. The medical center provides victims of female genital cutting with reconstructive surgery, counseling and other treatment.
Stephanie Pilick DPA/Landov

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 6:46 pm

At a recent sewing class held in Berlin at Mama Afrika, which helps immigrants adjust to life in Germany, most of the African and Middle Eastern students feign ignorance when founder Hadja Kaba asks them about female genital mutilation.

Turning to one young woman wearing a veil she asks, "Have you been cut?"

"Yes," the woman answers, holding up the cloth she is sewing.

Kaba tries again. "No, not the cloth — down there!"

The veiled woman shakes her head and turns back to her fabric.

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Parallels
12:57 pm
Sun December 22, 2013

'Jihad Tourism': From Germany To The Syrian Battlefield

Burak Karan was a rising German-Turkish soccer player before leaving Germany to fight in the Syrian civil war. He was killed in northern Syria in October at age 26. Karan is shown here in Aachen, Germany, in 2008.
Marcel Decoux EPA/Landov

More than 240 people have left Germany to join the civil war in Syria — the largest reported number from a European country.

One was Burak Karan, a rising German-Turkish soccer player who died in northern Syria in October at age 26. Bild newspaper quoted his brother saying Karan had gone to the border region between Turkey and Syria to help distribute aid.

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The Salt
1:05 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Is A 500-Year-Old German Beer Law Heritage Worth Honoring?

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 6:56 am

Germans are serious about their beer. Serious enough for the European country's main brewers association to urge the United Nations to recognize that fact.

The brewers association wants a five-century-old law governing how German beer is made to become part of the UNESCO World Heritage list. It would join the Argentinian tango, Iranian carpet weaving and French gastronomy, among other famous traditions, that are considered unique and worth protecting.

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NPR Story
2:35 am
Mon December 16, 2013

Germany's Merkel To Be Sworn In Again As Chancellor

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 4:46 am

Weeks of post-election political limbo have ended in Germany. The country's main center-left party has voted to join the coalition government of Angela Merkel. The move clears the way for her to start her third term as chancellor.

Europe
2:47 am
Fri September 20, 2013

German Voters Expected To Elect Merkel To Third Term

Originally published on Fri September 20, 2013 4:10 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

German voters are expected to elect Chancellor Angela Merkel to a third term on Sunday. Now, if she wins, Merkel, who is a former physicist, will be on the path to becoming Europe's longest-serving female head of government. The prospect of another four years of Merkel unsettles many Europeans outside Germany. But she is respected at home. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson sent us this profile from Berlin of the woman the German media call Mutti, or mommy of the nation.

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Parallels
5:18 am
Mon September 16, 2013

Germany's Refugee Policy Tested By New Arrivals

NPD Party activists hold up German flags in the Hellersdorf-Marzahn district of Berlin last month, as they protest a new home for asylum seekers.
Odd Andersen AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon September 16, 2013 10:43 am

As many as 5,000 Syrian refugees are moving to Germany this month after Chancellor Angela Merkel's government agreed to a U.N. request to host them. But they aren't receiving the warmest welcome in a country where a growing number of Germans are unhappy about the steady stream of asylum seekers. Fanning the flames are right wing extremists, who want Germany to close its doors to refugees.

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Parallels
10:20 am
Fri September 13, 2013

Like Anthony Weiner, German Politician Gives One-Finger Salute

Originally published on Fri September 13, 2013 3:15 pm

If two politicians on different continents both give an upthrust middle finger to the camera in the same week, is that enough to call it a global trend?

Perhaps we need one more, but here's what we have so far.

First there was failed New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, who, in a rare display of impulsive behavior, expressed his feelings toward a reporter as he left his election night party Tuesday.

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Political Crisis In Egypt
2:37 pm
Fri August 2, 2013

In Egypt, 'Third Square' Protesters Seek Middle Road

Activists from a group called "Third Square," which promotes a middle way in the rift between the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of the army's overthrow of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, shout slogans as they gather to oppose both parties at Sphinx Square in Giza on July 30.
Asmaa Waguih Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri August 2, 2013 5:05 pm

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News
5:07 am
Sun July 28, 2013

Egypt Clashes Among Country's Worst Bloodshed

Originally published on Sun July 28, 2013 10:31 am

Transcript

SUSAN STAMBERG, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Susan Stamberg.

Egypt's Health Ministry reports more than 70 people have died in clashes between security forces and protesters that took place on a major road in Cairo. Most of them were supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood from which he hails.

Reaction to the fighting in Egypt is rather muted at the moment. But as NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports, a growing number of Egyptians are concerned over what the government is planning next.

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Political Crisis In Egypt
4:22 pm
Sat July 27, 2013

Crackdown In Egypt Shows Shift In Military's Approach

An Egyptian man mourns the death of a relative, shot dead after violence erupted Friday night, inside the Muslim Brotherhood field hospital in Cairo.
Florian Plaucheur AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 10:56 am

In Egypt, protests against the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi turned deadly Saturday, after Egyptian security forces launched the most violent crackdown yet on those demonstrators.

The Egyptian Health Ministry says around 80 people were killed — most of them in Cairo. The Muslim Brotherhood, from which the deposed president hails, put the death toll at nearly twice that number. Hundreds more were injured.

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Parallels
1:14 am
Thu July 18, 2013

At Estonia's Bank Of Happiness, Kindness Is The Currency

Juan Pablo Gonzalez, a science and math teacher in San Diego, posted an offer to teach urban planting, including hydroponic techniques. He and his wife were inspired by the site and offered to help by translating it into Spanish.
Courtesy of Juan Pablo Gonzalez

Originally published on Thu July 18, 2013 8:54 am

Estonia's capital, Tallinn, is considered one of the world's leading "smart" cities, where the government and businesses alike rely heavily on computer technology.

But one group in the Estonian capital is using the Internet for something completely different: an online forum that markets good deeds.

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Middle East
4:41 am
Sun July 7, 2013

Sexual Assaults Reportedly Rampant During Egypt Protests

The bridge leading to Tahrir Square in Cairo was quiet Saturday morning, but activists say more than 100 women were sexually assaulted during protests there last week.
Hiro Komae AP

Originally published on Tue March 18, 2014 2:31 pm

From afar, Tahrir Square appears almost festive as protesters chant against the Islamist president who was overthrown by the Egyptian military last week. But inside the crushing crowds, the scene can be a lot more sinister.

In a video posted by the Muslim Brotherhood, an unidentified woman cries out as men attack her. The group, from which former President Mohammed Morsi hails, claims the attack occurred in Tahrir Square in late June.

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Middle East
10:37 am
Fri July 5, 2013

Shootings Reported At Demonstrations In Egypt

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

This is a week when Egypt is divided on what democracy means. In what amounted to a second uprising, millions of Egyptians poured into the streets to demand that their democratically elected president step down. When he balked, the army ousted Mohamed Morsi, which led his supporters to say it is a dark day for democracy there. Today, thousands of Morsi supporters are out protesting that military coup, in demonstrations that have reportedly turned violent.

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The Two-Way
11:04 am
Tue June 25, 2013

Germany Says It's Uncovered Terrorist Plot Using Model Planes

German officials say they've uncovered a radical Islamist plot to use remote-controlled model airplanes packed with explosives to carry out terrorist attacks in Germany.

Police carried out nine predawn raids in southern and eastern Germany as well as Belgium in search of evidence of what prosecutors allege was a plan for a "serious, state-threatening act of violence." There were no arrests.

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