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
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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Europe
2:43 pm
Tue April 30, 2013

Netherlands Welcomes First New King In Over A Century

Originally published on Tue April 30, 2013 6:01 pm

The Netherlands has a new king today — Willem-Alexander. He follows his mother Beatrix who abdicated on Tuesday and is the first male monarch in the country in more than a century.

The Two-Way
1:11 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
4:11 am
Sat March 30, 2013

German Anti-Euro Group Has Big-Name Backers

Originally published on Sat March 30, 2013 8:34 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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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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Europe
2:56 am
Mon March 25, 2013

European Parliaments Next To Approve Cyprus Deal

Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 6:34 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene.

The tiny Mediterranean island of Cyprus was on the brink of bankruptcy. But at the last minute, European finance ministers approved a multibillion-dollar bailout for the country. The deal will keep the island's banking system from collapsing, but the country is far from out of the woods.

NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson begins our coverage from Berlin.

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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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Europe
3:38 am
Mon February 25, 2013

Germany Called On To Evolve Its Gobal Military Role

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 7:53 am

For decades after the devastation of World War Two, Germany recoiled from any prospect of military engagement. Now the country is under pressure to get involved in foreign military conflicts as the U.S. cuts back its role as the world's policeman. Germany's growing military role is now being debated in government and academic circles.

Europe
4:05 am
Thu February 14, 2013

Dresden Marks WWII Bombing 68 Years Ago

Originally published on Fri February 15, 2013 1:05 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Thousands gathered last night in the German city of Dresden to mark the 68th anniversary of the allied bombing that destroyed that city during the Second World War. These days, the annual commemoration is less about remembering those who perished than a fight against modern-day Nazis - a fight waged sometimes with questionable methods. NPR's Berlin correspondent Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson traveled to Dresden and filed this report.

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Europe
4:55 am
Sun January 27, 2013

Troop Deployment No Long Sparks Mass Protests In Germany

Originally published on Sun January 27, 2013 8:00 am

After two devastating world wars, Germans recoiled from any prospect of military intervention. But today, German troops are posted in Afghanistan and engage in combat. This week, German lawmakers are expected to extend their country's military's mission in Afghanistan for 13 more months.

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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Middle East
3:25 am
Mon December 17, 2012

Egypt Referendum Marred By Irregularities

In Egypt, unofficial results show the country's controversial draft constitution was narrowly approved in the first stage of a referendum held this past Saturday. The draft constitution has deeply divided Egyptians. The second round of voting will take place this Saturday.

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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Africa
4:27 am
Mon December 10, 2012

Egypt's Morsi Authorizes Military To Arrest Civilians

Over the weekend, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi rescinded most of a temporary order that elevated his powers above judicial review. But he did not concede on demands to postpone a vote on a new constitution.

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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Africa
3:21 pm
Thu December 6, 2012

Morsi Calls For Consensus Amid Escalating Protests

Originally published on Thu December 6, 2012 4:40 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi is on the defensive. He went on state television late today and appealed for an end to the violence between supporters and opponents of his government. Last night, the two sides clashed outside the presidential palace. Six people were killed and hundreds more wounded.

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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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Middle East
5:48 am
Wed November 28, 2012

Opposition Protest In Cairo A Rare Show Of Unity

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And let's go now to Cairo, where demonstrators swarmed Tahrir Square last night to denounce the Egyptian president's recent decision to give himself unchecked power. This was the largest protest since Mohamed Morsi became president last summer. And it was notable because Egypt's secular opposition found a rare moment of unity. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson was on the square and she sent this report.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Chanting in foreign language)

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Middle East
5:33 am
Sun November 25, 2012

Egyptians Debate What New Decrees Will Mean

In Egypt, the main association of judges is calling for a nationwide strike by the country's courts to protest last week's power grab by the Egyptian president. So far, few courts are taking part.

Europe
3:32 am
Sat November 24, 2012

A Wave Of Plagiarism Cases Strikes German Politics

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (right) has given guarded support to Education Minister Annette Schavan, who is facing calls to resign over allegations of plagiarism.
Thomas Peter Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Sat November 24, 2012 11:43 am

More than half a dozen politicians in Germany are caught up in an embarrassing cheating scandal that last year cost the German defense minister his job.

The country's education minister is also implicated. She, like the other politicians, is accused of plagiarizing while earning a doctorate degree.

Their accusers are private citizens who use the Internet to coordinate their hunt for cheaters.

One of Germany's more famous cybersleuths is an American professor named Debora Weber-Wulff.

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Animals
3:01 pm
Tue November 20, 2012

Berlin Calls On Volunteer Hunters To Cull Wild Boars

Originally published on Tue November 20, 2012 4:14 pm

Berlin is known as the "wild boar capital" in Germany, with thousands of the animals roaming its residential neighborhoods. In the past, the city and animal rights activists battled over hiring hunters to kill the streetwise swine, who cause a lot of damage. But with attacks like the one in late October in which four people were injured by a male boar, curbing the wild pig population in the German capital is a growing priority.

Europe
3:30 pm
Mon November 12, 2012

A German City With Debt Problems Of Its Own

The main street in Oberhausen — Germany's most indebted city — is dotted with vacancies. Despite its economic woes, Oberhausen, like other western German cities, must make "reunification" payments to the former communist East. The payments help explain German voters' reluctance to bail out Greece and other eurozone countries.
Patrik Stollarz AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon November 12, 2012 6:31 pm

Germany, the economic engine of Europe, has been a key player in bailing out the Continent's most troubled economies.

Yet there are places in the former West Germany — like Oberhausen — that are struggling with their own debt problems, even as they pay hefty sums to revitalize former East German cities with transfers known as "Solidarity Pact" payments.

Borrowing To Stay Afloat — And Pay Out

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Business
2:37 am
Thu October 18, 2012

E.U. Summitt To Discuss Currency Commission

Originally published on Thu October 18, 2012 10:11 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

NPR's business news starts a plan to save the euro.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MONTAGNE: A week after the European Union won the Nobel Peace Prize, its leaders are meeting in Brussels to discuss strengthening their fiscal union to help stabilize European economies. Any the afterglow from receiving the peace prize has been dimmed by renewed divisions on how best to tackle the debt crisis, which suggests that this meeting won't make much progress.

NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports.

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