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
2:39 pm
Wed March 25, 2015

German Town Grieves For Residents Lost In French Alps Crash

Originally published on Wed March 25, 2015 6:00 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Europe
10:40 am
Wed March 25, 2015

Germanwings Disaster Marks First Crash For The Budget Airliner

The airline operating the plane that crashed in the French Alps says the plane had been inspected and found safe Monday. Officials in the German town that lost 16 schoolchildren in the disaster say there will be no classes tomorrow, but children will be welcomed for counseling.

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Europe
4:24 am
Wed March 25, 2015

Investigators Lack Answers In French Alps Plane Crash

Originally published on Wed March 25, 2015 6:18 am

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Muslim Identity In Europe
10:09 am
Fri March 6, 2015

Germans Open Their Homes To Refugee Roommates

Berlin residents Mareike Geiling (left) and her boyfriend, Jonas Kakoschke, speak with their roommate, a Muslim refugee from Mali. Geiling and Kokoschke helped launch a website that matches Germans willing to share their homes with new arrivals.
Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson NPR

Originally published on Sat March 7, 2015 7:47 pm

Asylum-seekers are flooding into Germany in record numbers, with more than 200,000 applying for that status last year, many from Muslim countries, according to the government.

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Muslim Identity In Europe
2:36 pm
Thu March 5, 2015

Highest-Ranking Muslim German Official Says Terrorist Attacks Bolster Discrimination

Originally published on Thu March 5, 2015 4:55 pm

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Europe
2:57 am
Wed March 4, 2015

Without Apprenticeships, Migrant Germans Lack Career Opportunties

Originally published on Wed March 4, 2015 5:52 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Parallels
2:35 am
Sat February 28, 2015

A German Muslim Asks His Compatriots: 'What Do You Want To Know?'

Earlier this month, Dr. Sadiqu al-Mousllie, accompanied by his family and a few members of their mosque, stood in downtown Braunschweig, Germany, and held up signs that read: "I am a Moslem. What would you like to know?" in an effort to promote dialogue between Muslims and non-Muslims.
Courtesy of Sarah Mousllie

Originally published on Sat February 28, 2015 8:27 pm

Sadiqu al-Mousllie sees humor as a good way to fight growing anti-Islam sentiment in Germany.

He lives in Braunschweig, in western Germany. Earlier this month, he decided to go downtown and hold up a sign that read, "I am a Moslem. What would you like to know?"

"This is a bridge of communication," the Syrian-born German says. "Some people dared to ask, some others not, so we went to them and give them some chocolate and a say of our prophet to know what Muslims are thinking about."

Mousllie, 44, says he hopes to do it every other week.

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Europe
6:01 am
Sun February 8, 2015

Merkel's U.S. Visit Could Turn Testy

Originally published on Sun February 8, 2015 9:41 am

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History
1:40 pm
Tue January 27, 2015

A Holocaust Survivor, Spared From Gas Chamber By Twist Of Fate

Jack Mandelbaum, a Holocaust survivor from the Polish city of Gdynia, poses in front of a photograph showing him as a youth.
Tobias Schwarz AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 28, 2015 2:20 pm

Seventy years ago, Soviet soldiers liberated Auschwitz, the most notorious of Nazi concentration camps.

Some 300 Holocaust survivors were at Auschwitz on Tuesday, along with several European presidents and other government officials, to honor at least 1.1 million people who were murdered, 1 million of whom were Jewish.

Among those killed there were Jack Mandelbaum's mother and brother. The Polish-born Mandelbaum survived, spared at the last minute by an officer of the dreaded SS who yanked the teen away from his family and sent him instead to a forced labor camp.

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Europe
2:48 pm
Wed January 21, 2015

Police, Counter-Demonstrators Dampen Anti-Islam March In Leipzig

Originally published on Wed January 21, 2015 5:00 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Parallels
3:24 pm
Fri January 16, 2015

A German Plan: House Refugees In An Old Concentration Camp

The warden's barracks at a satellite camp of the Buchenwald concentration camp in Schwerte, Germany, on Jan. 13. According to media reports, the city has proposed housing around 20 refugees in buildings at the camp. The move has drawn protests in Germany.
Bernd Thissen DPA/Landov

Originally published on Fri January 16, 2015 3:33 pm

A housing shortage for asylum seekers in Germany has led one city to propose a controversial solution that would place 21 refugees in a barracks on the grounds of a Nazi-era concentration camp.

Carsten Morgenthal, who is a spokesman for the city of Schwerte in North Rhine Westphalia, tells the Westdeutsche Allgemeine newspaper it isn't the first time this would be done.

Two decades ago, Schwerte officials also placed refugees at what was once a forced labor branch of the notorious Buchenwald camp during World War II.

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Europe
3:04 am
Tue January 13, 2015

Germans March In Dresden To Protest Radical Islam

Originally published on Tue January 13, 2015 6:01 am

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Europe
2:32 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

Anti-Immigrant Rally Draws Thousands In Dresden

Originally published on Thu February 5, 2015 3:30 pm

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Parallels
5:46 am
Sat December 27, 2014

Long Plagued By Corruption, Romania Seeks To Make A Fresh Start

Klaus Iohannis was an underdog who was the surprise winner of Romania's presidential runoff election last month. He was sworn into office on Dec. 21 with a promise to crackdown on corruption, a chronic problem in Romania.
Gabriel Amza for NPR

Originally published on Sat December 27, 2014 9:10 am

Romania is one of the poorest and most corrupt countries in Europe and it's been that way for years. It's a tough legacy to overcome, but there are signs the country is trying to make a fresh start.

Klaus Iohannis, an underdog presidential candidate who campaigned on a platform of fighting corruption, won a surprising victory last month over the ruling party's nominee. Iohannis, 55, was sworn into office last Sunday.

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Europe
2:57 am
Thu December 25, 2014

Romania's Rush To Judge Ceausescu Haunts Retired General

Originally published on Thu December 25, 2014 5:00 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Parallels
7:44 am
Wed December 24, 2014

25 Years After Death, A Dictator Still Casts A Shadow In Romania

Romanians burn a portrait of Nicolae Ceausescu in Denta on Dec. 22, 1989, as residents take to the streets to celebrate the downfall of the dictator.
Joel Robine AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun January 4, 2015 1:38 pm

Twenty-five years ago, the Communist leaders of Eastern Europe were falling like dominoes. And on Christmas Day in 1989, Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife, Elena, were executed by firing squad. The deaths of the despised couple ended a quarter-century of iron-fisted rule that translated into oppression and misery for most Romanians.

Yet many in that country — including some of their opponents — question the summary nature of the Ceausescus' trial and sentence.

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Europe
2:43 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

New Romanian President Vows To Crack Down On Corruption

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 4:58 pm

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Parallels
1:13 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

From German Teen To ISIS Jihadist: A Father's Struggle To Understand

Alfons R. of Hamburg, Germany (shown in this undated photo), converted to Islam at age 17. Later, he went to Turkey, then Syria, to join ISIS. He was killed this past summer.
Courtesy of Manfred Karg

Originally published on Thu December 4, 2014 8:34 am

Manfred Karg says he doesn't know how his eldest son, Alfons, became mixed up with radical Islamists.

Whatever happened, the German pensioner's 19-year-old son from Hamburg is now dead, one of at least 60 Germans killed fighting alongside ISIS militants, nine of them in suicide attacks, according to German authorities.

Karg says two young men with an "immigrant background" knocked on Alfons' mother's door to tell her of his death in Syria last summer.

"When she opened up, they said: 'Congratulations, your son is now in paradise,' " he says.

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Parallels
1:35 am
Mon December 1, 2014

German Government May Say 'Nein' To After Work Emails

German Chancellor Angela Merkel uses a mobile phone during a meeting of the German federal parliament in Berlin, on Nov. 28, 2013. The country's labor minister supports a call that would prohibit employers from sending emails to employees after normal business hours.
Michael Sohn AP

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 12:46 pm

All of us are familiar with the sound a smartphone makes when an email or text has arrived. Our somewhat Pavlovian response is to pick up the device, see who the message is from and read it.

In Germany, a growing number of these emails come from the boss contacting employees after work. That's not healthy, say experts on work-related stress, including psychologist Gerdamarie Schmitz in Berlin, who is feeling the technological encroachment herself.

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Europe
3:22 pm
Wed November 26, 2014

Though Usually Stoic, Merkel Shows Growing Ire With Russia

Originally published on Wed November 26, 2014 4:39 pm

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Parallels
2:42 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

The Rare Place Where Israelis And Iranians Play Together

What do you get when three Israelis, two Iranians and a German walk into a room? A Berlin-based world music ensemble known as Sistanagila, named after an Iranian province — Sistan and Baluchestan — and the popular Jewish folk song "Hava Nagila."
Courtesy of Sistanagila

Originally published on Wed November 12, 2014 6:39 pm

Like many Iranians living abroad, Babak Shafian cringed whenever Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, his country's former president, spewed hate-filled rhetoric about Israel. The 33-year-old computer scientist says the diatribes ignored thousands of years of shared history between Jews and Persians.

"The main thing which annoyed me really is that Ahmadinejad was presented in the Western media as the main voice of Iranian society," says Shafian, who moved to Germany 14 years ago.

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Parallels
3:01 am
Mon November 10, 2014

Berlin's 'Palace Of Tears,' A Reminder Of Divided Families, Despair

People wait in line to cross the border from East to West Berlin one day after the collapse of the Berlin Wall at Friedriechstrasse railway station in Berlin, Germany, on Nov. 10, 1989. The station, known as the Palace of Tears, is now a museum.
Michael Richter DPA/Corbis

Originally published on Mon November 10, 2014 10:12 am

It's hard to find traces of the Berlin Wall, which divided the German capital a quarter century ago. Like most Cold War symbols there, the infamous barrier was dismantled.

But one East German border relic that remains is a small blue building with a rounded glass facade tucked next to the Friedrichstrasse train station in the center of Berlin. The curious structure served as the main departure hall for people heading by rail from East Berlin to the West and was the scene for tearful farewells for German families and friends forced apart by the Cold War.

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Europe
2:23 pm
Fri November 7, 2014

Art Installation Commemorates 25 Years Since Berlin Wall Lost Its Power

Originally published on Fri November 7, 2014 6:11 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Parallels
9:11 am
Thu November 6, 2014

The Man Who Disobeyed His Boss And Opened The Berlin Wall

The Berlin Wall fell on Nov. 9, 1989, 25 years ago this weekend. East Germans flooded into West Berlin after border guard Harald Jaeger ignored orders and opened the gate for the huge, unruly crowd.
Alain Nogues Sygma/Corbis

Originally published on Fri November 7, 2014 1:58 pm

To many Germans, Harald Jaeger is the man who opened the Berlin Wall.

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The Two-Way
8:04 am
Tue November 4, 2014

'Arbeit Macht Frei' Gate Stolen From Former Dachau Death Camp

The entrance to the former concentration camp in Dachau, Germany, bears the Nazi slogan "Work Makes You Free." The gate was stolen over the weekend.
Johannes Simon Bongarts/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 4, 2014 9:58 pm

German authorities say they're investigating possible neo-Nazi involvement in the theft of an iron gate at the former Dachau concentration camp bearing the infamous phrase: "Arbeit Macht Frei" or "Work Makes You Free."

Those eerie words greeted some 200,000 prisoners who arrived at Dachau, which was the first concentration camp the Nazi regime opened in Germany. Tens of thousands of people sent there died from starvation and overwork as well as from medical experiments, torture and violence between 1933 and 1945.

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Europe
2:30 pm
Wed October 29, 2014

Germany Hopes Incentive Plan Will Strengthen Its Military

Originally published on Wed October 29, 2014 4:16 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Europe
2:15 pm
Mon October 13, 2014

Unusual Candidate Could Be The First Immigrant Mayor Of Berlin

Originally published on Mon October 13, 2014 2:58 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Cities Project
1:04 am
Thu October 9, 2014

In Berlin, Remaking The City Can Rekindle Old Frictions

The broadcast tower at Alexanderplatz looms over the city center. A crossing point of tourists, commuters, shoppers, lovers, artists and bums, Alexanderplatz was rebuilt by the communist authorities of former East Germany in the 1960s. Today, it's a popular gathering place in the reunified city.
Sean Gallup Getty Images

Originally published on Fri October 10, 2014 8:54 pm

Berlin is an on-again, off-again capital with a darker history than most cities in Europe.

It served as the epicenter of Hitler's Third Reich and was nearly wiped off the map at the end of the last World War. Berlin was also the flashpoint of the Cold War between the United States and Russia. Their conflict split the city into two, leaving residents on either side cut off from each other in every way imaginable for a generation.

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The Two-Way
8:36 am
Mon September 29, 2014

Germany Red-Faced Over Military Equipment Failures

A Sea Lynx helicopter is pictured on a frigate in Eckernfoerde, Germany, in 2010.
Andreas Rentz Getty Images

Germany's defense minister warns that her country currently can't meet its long-term NATO commitments because of a widespread grounding of German military planes and helicopters.

"At the moment, we are below the target numbers announced a year ago on airborne systems we would want to make available to NATO within 180 days in cases of emergency," Ursula von der Leyen told the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag over the weekend. "The reason is the delays in getting replacement parts" for planes and a recent grounding of German navy helicopters.

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Parallels
1:29 am
Tue September 23, 2014

Germany's New Economy Minister Takes Aim At Arms Exports

Germany is the world's third-largest exporter of arms, like this bazooka destined for northern Iraq, being packed up at a German military base on Thursday. The country's economy minister has held up hundreds of weapons exports since he took office in December, angering many in the defense industry.
Carsten Koall Getty Images

Originally published on Tue September 23, 2014 11:20 am

Germany is the world's third-largest arms exporter and Sigmar Gabriel, the country's minister for economic affairs, is determined to move his country farther down that list.

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