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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3:56pm

Wed January 15, 2014
The Salt

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

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 8:12 pm

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

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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2:00am

Fri January 10, 2014
Parallels

Despite Dim Prospects, Syrian Exodus To Germany Continues

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 11:45 am

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

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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3:27pm

Thu January 2, 2014
World

Berlin Clinic Aims To Make Genital Cutting Survivors Feel Whole

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 7:46 pm

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

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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1:57pm

Sun December 22, 2013
Parallels

'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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2:05am

Wed December 18, 2013
The Salt

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

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 7:56 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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3:35am

Mon December 16, 2013
NPR Story

Germany's Merkel To Be Sworn In Again As Chancellor

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 5:46 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.

7:43am

Thu October 17, 2013
Parallels

Grandma Exodus: German Seniors Look To Poland For Care

Originally published on Thu October 17, 2013 6:43 pm

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

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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3:47am

Fri September 20, 2013
Europe

German Voters Expected To Elect Merkel To Third Term

Originally published on Fri September 20, 2013 5:10 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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6:18am

Mon September 16, 2013
Parallels

Germany's Refugee Policy Tested By New Arrivals

Originally published on Mon September 16, 2013 11:43 am

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

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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11:20am

Fri September 13, 2013
Parallels

Like Anthony Weiner, German Politician Gives One-Finger Salute

Originally published on Fri September 13, 2013 4:15 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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3:28pm

Fri August 2, 2013
Political Crisis In Egypt

In Egypt, 'Third Square' Protesters Seek Middle Road

Originally published on Fri August 2, 2013 6:05 pm

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

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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6:07am

Sun July 28, 2013
News

Egypt Clashes Among Country's Worst Bloodshed

Originally published on Sun July 28, 2013 11:31 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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5:22pm

Sat July 27, 2013
Political Crisis In Egypt

Crackdown In Egypt Shows Shift In Military's Approach

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 11:56 am

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

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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2:14am

Thu July 18, 2013
Parallels

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

Originally published on Thu July 18, 2013 9:54 am

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

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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6:03am

Sun July 7, 2013
Middle East

Sexual Assaults Reportedly Rampant During Egypt Protests

Originally published on Tue March 18, 2014 3:31 pm

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

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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