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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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.

Parallels
6:43 am
Thu October 17, 2013

Grandma Exodus: German Seniors Look To Poland For Care

Two German women chat in the gardens of a senior care home in Berlin. Germany is grappling with a rapidly aging population: By 2050, almost a third of Germans will be 65 years or older, and a growing "Grandma export" trend has set hands wringing.
Sean Gallup Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 17, 2013 5:43 pm

A handful of German and Polish residents at a nursing home in the Polish mountain town of Szklarska Poreba play a Scrabble-like game using blocks with large letters.

The seniors are tended to by Polish workers who offer a steady supply of smiles, hugs and encouragement.

Leonardo Tegls says such personal attention makes this nursing home, Sun House, special. The 87-year-old Dutch-born immigrant to Germany says he first learned about the Polish nursing home from a TV ad.

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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
2:28 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

Tensions are running high in Egypt, as supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi continue their protests. But they aren't the only ones.

Barely two weeks after Morsi was toppled in early July, a new protest movement emerged on the scene in Cairo.

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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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The Two-Way
5:02 am
Tue June 25, 2013

Suspect Arrested In More Than 700 European Highway Shootings

German police say they have arrested a 57-year-old trucker whom they accuse of carrying out 762 shootings on European highways over the past five years.

"We found the famous needle in a hay stack," said Joerg Ziercke, chief commissioner of the German Federal Criminal Police. "A dangerous criminal who on several thousands of kilometers of highway in Germany, France, Belgium and Austria would reach for a gun whenever, wherever to shoot at other vehicles and endanger people's lives. It's unprecedented in Germany criminal history."

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Parallels
3:14 am
Sat June 22, 2013

Amid Ire At U.S., Germany Does Its Own Domestic Spying

Protesters display a cutout figure of President Obama in Berlin on Wednesday. Germans were protesting the National Security Agency's eavesdropping on foreign communication.
Gero Breloer AP

Originally published on Sat June 22, 2013 2:26 pm

Revelations of widespread U.S. spying on foreign Internet communications put a damper on President Obama's first state visit to Berlin. The German chancellor and other officials there say they want to know more about what the National Security Agency is looking at.

Yet the backlash has been more muted than expected. One reason is that the German government is doing similar surveillance.

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Parallels
8:31 am
Wed June 12, 2013

Tallinn: The Former Soviet City That Gave Birth To Skype

Residents of the Estonian capital of Tallinn can use public transportation for free after purchasing a special card for 2 euros.
Raigo Pajula AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed June 12, 2013 4:20 pm

The Baltic city of Tallinn hardly looks modern with its blend of medieval towers and Soviet-era architecture. Smoke-spewing buses and noisy streetcars look as if they have been plucked from the past.

Even so, the Estonian capital is one of the world's most technologically advanced cities. The birthplace of Skype has repeatedly been cited for its digital accomplishments. Last week, Tallinn once again made the short list of the world's most intelligent cities as selected by the Intelligent Community Forum.

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Europe
1:42 am
Mon May 6, 2013

German Terrorism Trial Puts Racism Fears In The Spotlight

Ismail Yozgat (right) and Ayse Yozgat pray at a memorial event on the seventh anniversary of the murder of their son Halit in Kassel, Germany.
Uwe Zucchi AP

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 6:24 pm

Emotions ran high as Germany's biggest terrorism trial in decades got underway Monday in Munich. The hearing is on the murders of 10 people who were the victims of a nearly decadelong neo-Nazi terror campaign against the Turkish community there.

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The Two-Way
1:20 pm
Mon April 15, 2013

Germany Braces For Trial Blamed On Right-Wing Extremists

Police in Munich, Germany, stand watch last week as activists protest against right-wing violence. A trial is set to begin next month for men charged in the killings of nine immigrants and a German policewoman.
Johannes Simon Getty Images

Originally published on Tue April 16, 2013 6:20 am

Germany is preparing for its most important terrorism trial in decades.

Ten people — eight of them of Turkish descent, one of Greek extraction and one a German policewoman, were gunned down between 2000 and 2007. For years, German authorities failed to see a link between the crimes, even though the same gun was used in all of the shootings. They also rejected any link to right-wing extremism.

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The Two-Way
11:09 am
Mon April 8, 2013

'I Liked It,' Putin Says Of Protest By Topless Women

Russian President Vladimir Putin (far left) looks on Monday in Hanover, Germany, as one of three women who stripped off their tops protests his appearance at a trade fair. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is in the green jacket.
Jochen Luebke EPA /LANDOV
  • From the NPR Newscast: Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson on the protest in Hanover

At a trade fair in Hanover, Germany, on Monday, three women protesters got quite close to Russian President Vladimir Putin before stripping off their blouses and shouting expletives at the Russian leader.

Putin, who was joined at the fair by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, later sarcastically thanked the women for calling the news media's attention to the gathering.

"As to this action, I liked it," Putin said, according to a German translator. The Russian leader added that the protesters were "pretty girls" and said he couldn't hear what they were screaming.

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Arts & Life
1:19 am
Fri April 5, 2013

Jewishness On Display: 'Truth' By Way Of Discomfort

Bill Glucroft, an American Jew living in Berlin, chats with visitors from his box in the most controversial portion of the Berlin Jewish Museum's exhibition "The Whole Truth."
Sean Gallup Getty Images

Originally published on Fri April 5, 2013 7:16 pm

In Berlin's Jewish Museum, a new exhibit called "The Whole Truth" asks visitors uncomfortable and even absurd questions about Jews. One of the curators, Michal Friedlander, says it is intentionally provocative.

"The point is to get people talking about how they perceive Jews, particularly in Germany today," she says.

But some German Jews accuse the museum of going too far.

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Europe
2:30 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

Long After Its Fall, Berlin Wall Is Focus Of New Protests

American actor David Hasselhoff speaks to protesters next to a remnant of the Berlin Wall last week. Thousands of people turned out to oppose a plan to knock down one of the few remaining sections of the wall. A small part was removed Wednesday.
Odd Andersen AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 27, 2013 7:55 pm

Protected by scores of German police officers, workers removed sections of a key remnant of the Berlin Wall before dawn Wednesday despite earlier protests demanding the concrete artifact of the Cold War be preserved.

The removal came as a shock to residents, just as it did on Aug. 13, 1961, when communists first built the barrier that divided Berlin during the Cold War.

Tour guide Rolf Strobel, 52, was among the scores of people who came to gape at the holes in what had been the longest remaining stretch of the wall — about eight-tenths of a mile.

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Guns In America: A Loaded Relationship
2:44 pm
Tue March 19, 2013

What's Worked, And What Hasn't, In Gun-Loving Switzerland

Gun enthusiasts take part in a shooting competition at a club outside Zurich. The gun culture is deeply entrenched in Switzerland, where citizens as young as 10 learn to shoot.
Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson NPR

Originally published on Tue March 19, 2013 6:34 pm

Switzerland has an entrenched gun culture that is embraced by most of its 8 million citizens, some of them as young as 10 years old.

Every Swiss community has a shooting range, and depending on who is counting, the alpine country ranks third or fourth in the number of guns per capita.

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Europe
11:59 am
Wed March 13, 2013

German Prince Plans To Put Bison Back In The Wild

European bison, or wisents, keep a safe distance from human visitors to their enclosure on the property of Prince Richard of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg in Germany's densely populated state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson NPR

Originally published on Mon April 1, 2013 3:17 pm

A small herd of European bison will soon be released in Germany's most densely populated state, the first time in nearly three centuries that these bison — known as wisents — will roam freely in Western Europe.

The project is the brainchild of Prince Richard of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg. He owns more than 30,000 acres, much of it covered in Norwegian spruce and beech trees in North Rhine-Westphalia.

For the 78-year-old logging magnate, the planned April release of the bull, five cows and two calves will fulfill a decade-old dream.

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The Salt
10:19 am
Wed February 27, 2013

Germans Are Drinking Less Beer These Days, But Why?

A waiter carries beer mugs during the 2012 Oktoberfest in Munich.
Johannes Simon Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 27, 2013 3:57 pm

For centuries, Germany has been synonymous with beer. Tourists flock from around the world to take part in the country's many beer festivals, including the famous Oktoberfest.

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World
3:28 am
Sat January 5, 2013

Germany's Housing Market Is Hot. Is It Overheating?

Berlin's Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood, like many others across the city, is experiencing a real estate boom. Housing prices have risen by as much as 20 percent in the past year in some German cities.
Adam Berry Getty Images

Originally published on Sat January 5, 2013 7:59 am

Few Western countries are as conservative about home ownership as Germany, where less than half the country's citizens own property.

German banks have tough lending rules. Would-be buyers are usually asked to provide hefty down payments to secure mortgages, meaning few Germans even think about buying a home until they are settled and financially secure.

But the European debt crisis appears to be changing the traditions around home ownership. The resulting surge in homebuying, some officials warn, is driving prices too high and threatens the nation's economy.

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The Two-Way
6:26 am
Sun December 16, 2012

Egyptian Constitutional Referendum Appears To Have Passed

Polling station officials count ballots in Cairo on Dec. 15, at the end of the first day of vote in a referendum on a new constitution.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun December 16, 2012 7:24 am

In Egypt, voters appear to have approved the controversial draft referendum on a proposed constitution in the first stage of the referendum held across half of the country yesterday.

The outcome is unofficial at this point as the government has said it will not announce official results until the referendum concludes in the rest of Egypt next Saturday. The vote is being held in two stages because a boycott by many judges who were supposed to supervise the elections. Those boycotting say they reject the constitution because it doesn't have a national consensus.

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The Two-Way
3:17 am
Sat December 15, 2012

Egyptians Hurry To Vote On Draft Constitution

Women wait in line outside a polling station to vote on a disputed constitution drafted by Islamist supporters of President Mohammed Morsi in Cairo on Saturday.
Amr Nabil AP

Originally published on Sun December 16, 2012 11:43 am

Update at 2:54 p.m. ET: Voting Hours Extended:

Voter turnout on the first day of a referendum on Egypt's controversial draft constitution was so high in Cairo and nine other governorates that election officials decided to extend poll hours from 7 until 11 p.m. local time.

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Middle East
2:55 am
Fri December 7, 2012

Egyptian Protesters Display Newfound Unity

Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 4:58 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Protests in Egypt rage on, despite President Mohammed Morsi's offer in a televised speech last night to meet with his opponents. Demonstrators filled Cairo's streets again today. The opposition in Egypt is confident and they're displaying a newfound unity, something Egypt hasn't seen since the early days of the revolution that ousted Morsi's predecessor, Hosni Mubarak. But as NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports, many question whether this unity will last beyond the ongoing political crisis.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

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Europe
1:09 am
Sun December 2, 2012

Ach! No End In Sight For Berlin Airport Woes

The opening date of Germany's new Willy Brandt Berlin Brandenburg International Airport has been delayed three times due to construction delays and safety concerns.
Sean Gallup Getty Images

Originally published on Sun December 2, 2012 5:54 am

Germans are famous for their efficiency and being on time. But a much-delayed, expensive new airport in the German capital, Berlin, is rapidly destroying that reputation.

Located in the former East Berlin neighborhood of Schoenefeld, the new airport is to replace three others that serviced passengers in the once-divided city. One of those, Tempelhof — made famous by the Allied airlifts of food and supplies during the Soviet blockade of the late 1940s — is already closed.

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