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
12:24 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

Angst In Germany Over Invasion Of American English

iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 4:33 pm

It seems hardly a sentence is spoken in Berlin that doesn't have an American English word in it.

One word that especially grates — and I confess to a certain bias, having learned German as a toddler when it wasn't so Americanized — is a word pronounced "sogh-ee." Or, as Americans say it, "sorry."

"Sogh-ee" your package is late.

"Sogh-ee" your hot water is off.

"Sogh-ee" we can't help you.

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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
3:05 am
Mon February 24, 2014

Ukraine President's Estate Included Exotic Zoo

Originally published on Mon February 24, 2014 5:34 am

When he fled Kiev, Viktor Yanukovych left behind an opulent mansion that underscores the problems many Ukrainians say plague their country: widespread government corruption and a huge income gap.

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
3:27 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Ukraine: Deal Reached At Crisis Talks

Originally published on Fri February 21, 2014 7:29 am

The office of president Viktor Yanukovich says a deal has been reached with opposition leaders to stop the violence in the capital Kiev. Scores of people have died in two days of clashes.

Europe
4:46 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

At Least 70 Killed In Kiev, With Casualties Still Mounting

Originally published on Thu February 20, 2014 6:02 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.

In Ukraine, protesters and police clash today in the worst violence yet during the three-month old uprising against President Viktor Yanukovych. A flurry of diplomatic visits to Kiev and the EU's threat of sanctions have failed to slow the carnage. At least 100 people are reported dead after two days of fighting. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson is in Kiev covering the crisis.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELLS RINGING)

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Europe
4:04 am
Thu February 20, 2014

Truce Brokered In Ukraine Appears To Be Breaking Down

Originally published on Thu February 20, 2014 5:38 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steven Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

A truce announced late last night between protestors and the government in Kiev, Ukraine broke down this morning.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

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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.

Europe
3:18 am
Mon February 10, 2014

EU Mute On U.S. Diplomat's Criticism Involving Ukraine

Originally published on Mon February 10, 2014 5:45 am

There was a U.S. diplomatic gaff last week. It involved an expletive used by an assistant secretary of State to express a rather rude form of anger at the European Union during a private phone conversation. The phone call was intercepted by someone — presumably another government — and leaked.

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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Europe
3:01 am
Mon February 3, 2014

World's Top Diplomats Examine Security Concerns

Originally published on Mon February 3, 2014 5:43 am

Many of the world's top diplomats met over the weekend along with defense officials for an annual security conference in Munich, Germany. Top of the agenda were two countries in particular: Ukraine and Iran.

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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Europe
2:52 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

German Economic Fears May Have Roots In Age-Old Prejudice

Originally published on Tue January 28, 2014 4:55 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Now to a debate in Europe over something called poverty migration. Recently, some countries in the European Union lifted work restrictions on Romanians and Bulgarians. As a result, factions in Britain and Germany worry that poor and unskilled immigrants will flood in and collect welfare payments.

But Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports, this debate isn't being driven by new arrivals from Romania and Bulgaria. Instead, she says, it may involve prejudice against one particular group, the long-oppressed Roma.

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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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Middle East
5:11 am
Tue January 21, 2014

Egyptian Military Clamps Down On Freedom Of Speech

Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 11:57 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

In Egypt, the military-led government took charge last year with a violent clampdown on Islamists. Since then, it's been targeting many others who criticize its leadership. A high-profile liberal is being charged with a crime over a tweet. And there are at least five journalists behind bars in Egypt, including a team of Al Jazeera English journalists who are being accused of terrorism and other crimes. Egypt is now one of the most dangerous places for reporters to report.

NPR's Leila Fadel has the story of one of them.

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World
9:59 am
Sun January 19, 2014

Germans Cautious About Obama's NSA Proposals

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Last year, revelations that the U.S. had tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone soured relations between the two allies. In Europe, President Obama's recommendations to reign in the NSA when it comes to listening to foreign leaders was met with a lukewarm reaction. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports that Germans are especially skeptical that the changes will mean an end to American eavesdropping.

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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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Europe
2:52 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Berlin's Frenzied Fireworks Have Locals Leaving, Hiding On New Year's

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 4:56 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

New Year's Eve in Berlin is a big draw for tourists from around the world. Revelers pack the streets around the Brandenburg Gate and greet the stroke of midnight with music, champagne and mulled wine. But for many residents of the German capital, the holiday can be a frightening and often dangerous experience. As NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports, thousands of people armed with fireworks transform the city's streets into what feels like a war zone.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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Sports
3:22 am
Tue December 24, 2013

Berlin Cheers On Former East German Soccer Team

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 5:24 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

For people in Germany, Christmas means evergreens, "Silent Night" and mulled wine. In the city of Berlin, Christmas also means celebrating a scrappy group of athletes. The FC Union soccer team was formed by iron workers more than a century ago. During the Cold War, it became a symbol of resistance against the East German government. These days, despite mixed results on the field, FC Union remains a fan favorite.

NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson sent this postcard from a game over the weekend.

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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
2:42 am
Wed November 6, 2013

Neo-Nazis In Germany Use Music To Attract Followers

Originally published on Wed November 6, 2013 2:28 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Given its dark history, Germany prohibits, in its constitution, Nazi glorification, and forbidden speech includes neo-Nazi songs. The government is tracking more than 180 right-wing bands, an underground scene they say helps recruit young people to extremist groups. But officials say censoring neo-Nazi music to protect young Germans is not as easy as it once was.

NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson has the story from Berlin.

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Europe
2:23 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

U.S. Spying Takes Center Stage At EU Summit

Originally published on Thu October 24, 2013 4:25 pm

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is furious about the U.S. eavesdropping on her calls. She is the latest to protest loudly to the U.S. as the EU gathers for a regular summit. The meeting should have focused on immigration and the economy, but will be sidetracked by the continued NSA spying anger.

Europe
3:26 am
Mon September 23, 2013

Germany's Chancellor Leads Conservative Party To Victory

Originally published on Mon September 23, 2013 8:35 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In Germany, low unemployment and a strong economy translated into a big election victory for Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Conservative political party. This means a third term for the 59-year-old physicist. The win for Merkel was even bigger than predicted by her political party. Merkel's win is all the more impressive as other European leaders have fallen, with voters venting frustration over the continent's financial crisis.

NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports.

(APPLAUSE)

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Europe
5:46 am
Sat September 21, 2013

Germany, Lauded For Welcoming Gays, Lags In Granting Rights

Originally published on Sat September 21, 2013 9:34 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Most of the countries where same-sex couples enjoy the same rights as heterosexual ones are in Western Europe. Their governments have legalized marriage and adoption rights for gays and lesbians. Now, Germany has been acclaimed for being especially welcoming to gays and lesbians but its government is lagging behind in giving them equal rights.

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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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