NPR: Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson

Foreign correspondent Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson is based in Cairo and covers the Arab world for NPR from the Middle East to North Africa. Her reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning programs including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

In 2006, Nelson opened the NPR Kabul Bureau. During the following three and a half years, she gave listeners an in-depth sense of life inside Afghanistan, from the increase in suicides among women in a tribal society that sees them as second class citizens, to the growing interference of Iran and Pakistan in Afghan affairs and the impact of Western policies in the region. For her coverage of Afghanistan, she won a Peabody award, Overseas Press Club award and Gracie in 2010.

Nelson came to NPR in 2006, after spending more than two decades as a newspaper reporter. She served as Knight Ridder's Middle East Bureau Chief from 2002 to 2005 where she specialized in covering Iran. As a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, Nelson was sent on extended assignment to Iran and Afghanistan following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Nelson spent three years as 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. She also spent time at the the Orange County Register covering Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

A graduate of the University of Maryland, Nelson speaks Farsi, Dari, and German. She is married to long-time reporter Erik Nelson and they have a son.

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5:30am

Wed July 23, 2014
Middle East

As Gaza Fighting Rages, West Bank Palestinians Can Only Watch

Originally published on Wed July 23, 2014 2:31 pm

Palestinian Imad Abudayyah and his son, Ghassan, speak to relatives in the Gaza Strip via Skype from Ramallah in the West Bank. Israeli restrictions make it extremely difficult to travel between the two territories. West Bank Palestinians have largely been bystanders in the current round of fighting.
Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson NPR

At least three times a day, Imad Abudayyah, 49, fires up his laptop at the West Bank hotel where he's currently living with his 11-year-old son, Ghassan, to reach out to relatives in the Gaza Strip. Abudayyah says Skype is the only way they can see the family members they have left behind.

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4:11pm

Wed July 9, 2014
Europe

In Germany, A Case Against Another Alleged American Spy

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 10:39 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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5:14am

Sun July 6, 2014
Parallels

Germany's Battle Over What May Be Its Last Lenin Statue

Originally published on Sun July 6, 2014 2:48 pm

A statue of Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin outside an apartment complex in Schwerin, Germany. Erected in 1985, four years before communism collapsed in East Germany, it's believed to be the last Lenin statue in Germany and the town is divided over whether it should stay. The inscription reads, "Decree on land," referring to a Lenin manifesto that said workers were the real owners of the land.
Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson NPR

It's easy to miss the controversial bronze statue. It stands in front of a Soviet-style, high-rise apartment in the East German city of Schwerin.

Far removed from the ornate city center, this 13-foot-tall depiction of Vladimir Lenin has him looking relaxed. His hands are tucked in his coat pockets and he's gazing off into the distance.

But an angry message is scrawled in red paint across the sidewalk at his feet. In German, it reads: "LENIN STAYS."

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5:35pm

Fri June 27, 2014
The Salt

Got Leftovers To Share? In Germany, There's A Website For That

Originally published on Wed July 2, 2014 10:46 am

Europeans throw away 90 million tons of food each year, including these vegetables pulled from waste bins of an organic supermarket in Berlin. A new German website aims to connect surplus food with people who want it.
Fabrizio Bensch Reuters /Landov

Child psychiatrist Vero Buschmann says she was looking for a way to get rid of leftovers without having to throw them away. At the same time, the Berlin resident wanted to meet new people.

She found a nonprofit website in Germany that allows her to do both. On a recent evening, her doorbell rings and she buzzes Franzi Zimmerman in to her fifth-floor apartment.

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4:34pm

Thu June 26, 2014
Sports

For German Fans In Berlin Beer Garden, National Pride Is No Problem

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 7:10 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Of course, today's match drew big crowds in both the United States and Germany. We first go to NPR Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson in Berlin, who joined scores of Germans at a beer garden to watch the game on three screens outside.

SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON, BYLINE: Most Germans are uncomfortable displaying national pride because they are sensitive about their country's notorious history. But they make an exception during World Cup season, and today, thousands of Berliners carried German flags.

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD AT BEER GARDEN)

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7:47am

Sat May 24, 2014
Europe

Ultra-Nationalist Party Surges In Hungary

Originally published on Sat May 24, 2014 2:09 pm

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

And the far right is poised to do well in Hungary's EU election tomorrow. Candidates blame the EU for many of that country's problems. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports from Budapest.

SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON, BYLINE: To many Hungarians, a half-finished World War II monument next to a popular fountain in downtown Budapest highlights the extremist tenor of politics in this former East Bloc country.

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5:05pm

Sun May 11, 2014
Europe

Eastern Ukraine Muddles Through Voting On Referendums

Separatists in the eastern Ukraine regions of Donetsk and Luhansk asked voters to take part in an unauthorized referendum Sunday on whether to make their region independent.

4:11pm

Fri May 9, 2014
Europe

On Victory Day, Fanfare In Crimea And Turmoil In Eastern Ukraine

Originally published on Fri May 9, 2014 8:45 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. President Vladimir Putin travelled to Crimea today to mark the anniversary of Russia's victory in the Second World War. It was his first time there since the peninsula was annexed by Russia. His visit was criticized by the Ukrainian government and Washington, but Putin told Crimeans that by being together with Russia, they're stronger.

PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: (Speaking foreign language)

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5:15pm

Thu May 8, 2014
Europe

Spurning Putin's Calls For Delay, Ukrainian Separatists Forge Ahead

Originally published on Thu May 8, 2014 7:49 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. In eastern Ukraine, pro-Russian separatists have decided to go ahead with Sunday's referendum on independence. That's despite Russian President Vladimir Putin urging them yesterday to postpone that vote. Here's the self-declared governor in the eastern region of Donetsk earlier today.

VALERY BOLOTOV: (Foreign language spoken)

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4:21pm

Fri May 2, 2014
Europe

Deaths And Downed Helicopters In Eastern Ukraine Offensive

Originally published on Sat May 3, 2014 11:17 am

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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4:54pm

Thu May 1, 2014
Europe

For Separatists, Ballots Are On Their Way — But Plans Are Still Pending

Originally published on Thu May 1, 2014 8:32 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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4:00pm

Wed April 30, 2014
Europe

Ukraine's Acting President: We've Lost Control Of East

Originally published on Wed April 30, 2014 6:18 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. Ukraine's interim president says his military forces have lost control of the eastern part of the country. That declaration today came after masked separatists captured government offices in a key provincial capital. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson is in the city of Donetsk in the east where separatists also wield control.

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4:22pm

Fri April 25, 2014
Europe

Heated Words On Air Often Don't Match Events On Ground In Ukraine

Originally published on Fri April 25, 2014 7:15 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. The government in Kiev accused the Kremlin today of trying to start another world war. This comes as a team of unarmed military observers in Ukraine is said to have been detained by pro-Moscow militants. The group is made up of representatives from several European countries. They've been monitoring growing tensions in eastern Ukraine.

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4:16pm

Tue April 22, 2014
Europe

As Putin Rides Wave Of Popularity, Opposition May Get Swept Under

Originally published on Tue April 22, 2014 6:38 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

In Russia, President Vladimir Putin is enjoying unprecedented public support for his recent annexation of Crimea. His pledge to protect Russian, speaking citizens elsewhere in Ukraine, by military force if necessary, is also wildly popular. Putin is banking on that support as he moves to quash another perceived threat: His political opponents at home.

NPR Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson went to Moscow for that story.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken)

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4:23pm

Thu April 17, 2014
News

Out Of A Tough Day Of Diplomacy, A Surprising Deal On Ukraine

Originally published on Thu April 17, 2014 8:06 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.

A deal now that could possibly ease the tensions in eastern Ukraine. The U.S., Europe, Russia and Ukraine came to an agreement that calls on multinational monitors to oversee steps to restore order. The deal would likely delay any new sanctions against Russia. President Obama has already cast doubt on whether the Russian's will cooperate. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson has more.

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3:47pm

Tue April 1, 2014
Parallels

Not An April Fools' Joke: Russians Petition To Get Alaska Back

Originally published on Tue April 1, 2014 4:35 pm

Russians in Moscow's Red Square hold banners reading, "Love You Crimea!" "Together For All Time" and "Obama, Think About Alaska!" during a March 18 rally celebrating the annexation of Crimea.
Sergei Ilnitsky EPA/Landov

President Vladimir Putin's annexation of Crimea is reigniting talk in Russia of taking back Alaska from the United States, which purchased the territory from a czar for $7.2 million nearly a century and a half ago.

Most of the talk is tongue-in-cheek, but it comes at a time of heightened sensitivity in the West over whether Russia is planning further incursions or land grabs.

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12:17pm

Sun March 30, 2014
Europe

Caught Between Russia And Ukraine, Border Cities Share Only Worry

Originally published on Sun March 30, 2014 5:59 pm

Demonstrators carry a giant Russian flag through Kharkiv, Ukraine, earlier this month. The city's population is a blend of Ukranians and Russians, many of whom share families across the Russian border.
Sergey Kozlov AP

The deployment of tens of thousands of Russian troops along their country's western border with Ukraine worries the new government in Kiev and its Western allies, including President Obama.

In a phone call Friday, he asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to pull those forces back, a demand likely to be repeated by Secretary of State John Kerry when he meets with his Russian counterpart in Paris Sunday.

But people in the Russian border city of Belgorod, one of the places where troops have been gathering, say they can't understand why the U.S. is making such a fuss.

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3:32pm

Tue March 25, 2014
Parallels

With Ribbons, Russians Show Support For Takeover In Crimea

Russian lawmaker Leonid Slutsky wears a ribbon to show support for Russia's takeover of Crimea. The same symbol is used to mark the Soviet victory in WWII and dates back centuries.
Alexander Zemlianichenko AP

It's hard to keep up with the vast array of colored ribbons that convey causes around the world, especially when the same color has multiple meanings. Red ones, for example, represent AIDS awareness but also drunk driving prevention, among other things.

Last week, deputies in the Russian parliament, or Duma, adopted their own ribbon to signal approval for Russia's takeover of Crimea – ones with black and orange stripes.

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5:07am

Mon March 17, 2014
World

EU Rejects Crimean Vote, Weighs Sanctions Against Russia

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 6:19 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And as Eleanor just told Renee, the government in Kiev says the world is with them, and not with Russia.

Let's bring in NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson into this conversation. She's in Berlin. She's been monitoring the European reaction to the vote in Crimea.

And, Soraya, as we mentioned, the EU, like the United States, threatening sanctions against Russia. EU foreign ministers are actually meeting today to draw some up and take a vote. What exactly are these sanctions?

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4:28pm

Thu March 13, 2014
News

Germany Changes Its Tone On Russia, And EU Sanctions May Follow

Originally published on Thu March 13, 2014 6:35 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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4:05pm

Fri February 21, 2014
Europe

In Kiev, Leaders Ink A Deal — But Will The People Follow?

Originally published on Fri February 21, 2014 7:53 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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4:05pm

Thu February 20, 2014
Europe

At Least 70 Killed In Kiev, With Casualties Still Mounting

Originally published on Thu February 20, 2014 8:02 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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4:40pm

Wed February 19, 2014
Europe

From The Streets Of Kiev, A Firsthand Look At the Protests

Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 8:02 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.

4:18pm

Tue February 4, 2014
Parallels

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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4:55am

Sat February 1, 2014
Parallels

Germany's New Defense Minister: More Peacekeeping Missions Welcome

Originally published on Sun February 2, 2014 12:00 am

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

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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4:39pm

Sun January 26, 2014
The Two-Way

Heinrich Himmler's Private Letters Published In German Newspaper

Originally published on Sun January 26, 2014 6:00 pm

Heinrich Himmler (left) and Adolf Hitler (third from left) observe Stormtroop maneuvers in January 1941.
Keystone Getty Images

"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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4:52am

Sat January 18, 2014
Afghanistan

Restaurant Owner Loved The Patrons He Died Trying To Protect

Originally published on Mon January 20, 2014 8:04 am

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

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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5:31pm

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 9:12 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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3:00am

Fri January 10, 2014
Parallels

Despite Dim Prospects, Syrian Exodus To Germany Continues

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 12:45 pm

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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4:27pm

Thu January 2, 2014
World

Berlin Clinic Aims To Make Genital Cutting Survivors Feel Whole

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 8:46 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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