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
2:13 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 9:34 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
2:35 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 1:46 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
4:13 pm
Wed November 26, 2014

Though Usually Stoic, Merkel Shows Growing Ire With Russia

Originally published on Wed November 26, 2014 5:39 pm

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

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Parallels
3:23 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 7:39 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
10:11 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 2:58 pm

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

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The Two-Way
9:06 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 10:58 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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Cities Project
2:04 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 9:54 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
9:36 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
2:29 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 12:20 pm

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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Europe
4:10 pm
Sun September 14, 2014

Thousands Gather In Germany To Rally Against Anti-Semitism

People with Israeli flags and banners attend a rally against anti-Semitism near the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on Sunday.
Markus Schreiber AP

Originally published on Mon September 15, 2014 1:53 pm

In Berlin, thousands of people gathered at the Brandenburg Gate on Sunday to demonstrate against a wave of harassment and attacks against Jews in Germany. Many blame the rising anti-Semitism there and across Europe on tensions over the Gaza conflict.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, who attended the Berlin rally, said there is no place for anti-Semitism in Germany, particularly because of its Nazi past, and that fighting it is every German citizen's duty.

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Europe
5:53 am
Wed September 3, 2014

Ukraine Announces Cease-Fire With Russia

Originally published on Wed September 3, 2014 7:22 am

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

Europe
3:07 pm
Fri August 29, 2014

Residents Join Soldiers In Shoring Up Defenses Of Key Ukrainian Port

Originally published on Fri August 29, 2014 7:40 pm

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

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Europe
4:35 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Kiev Claims Russia Has Sights Set On New Eastern Ukrainian City

Originally published on Tue August 26, 2014 7:07 pm

Ukraine has accused Russia of trying to open a new front in the war between the government and pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine. Ukraine says its troops are involved in heavy fighting with an armored force that it says entered Ukrainian territory. Kiev has also released video of what it says is a group of captured Russian soldiers. Russia says the soldiers might have crossed the border inadvertently.

Europe
3:31 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

Russian Convoy Crosses Ukrainian Border, Prompting Outcry From West

Originally published on Fri August 22, 2014 7:09 pm

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

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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

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Europe
4:07 am
Thu August 21, 2014

As Ukraine Presses Military Offensive, The Facts Are Fuzzy

Ukrainian soldiers muster at a point close to Luhansk in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday, as Ukrainian troops make a push into rebel-held territory.
Petro Zadorozhnyy AP

Originally published on Thu August 21, 2014 2:17 pm

The Ukrainian government claims its armed forces have recaptured a large part of the eastern city of Luhansk following fierce battles Wednesday with pro-Russian separatist fighters.

This is part of a broader campaign by the Ukrainians that has been marked by a number of successes recently. But as is often the case here, it's impossible to independently verify what either side says. Both the military and the rebels prevent reporters from getting near embattled areas, and in many places like Luhansk, phones and Internet are not working.

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Europe
3:05 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

Civilian Convoy Comes Under Attack In Ukraine

Originally published on Wed August 20, 2014 8:58 am

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

There's been more heavy fighting in Eastern Ukraine today. Ukrainian government troops are said to be battling block-by-block inside the separatist-held city of Luhansk. In addition, they claim to be closer to retaking the major city in the region, Donetsk.

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Europe
3:09 pm
Fri August 15, 2014

Russian Military Vehicles Reportedly Move Into Ukraine

Originally published on Fri August 15, 2014 7:02 pm

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Europe
4:00 am
Fri August 15, 2014

Russian Aid Convoy Parked Near Ukraine Border

Originally published on Fri August 15, 2014 6:36 am

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

Europe
3:09 pm
Thu August 14, 2014

As Kiev Cites Progress, Opposing Convoys Head To Ukraine's East

Originally published on Fri August 15, 2014 5:38 am

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

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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The Two-Way
8:36 am
Mon August 11, 2014

Trial Of Alleged German Autobahn Shooter Begins

Truck driver Michael Harry K. is brought into a courtroom in the regional court in Wuerzburg, Germany, on Monday. His face is blurred in accordance with German laws.
Karl-Josef Hildenbrand DPA /LANDOV

The trial of a 58-year-old truck driver who is accused of firing more than 700 shots at other vehicles on German highways over five years began today in the northern Bavarian city of Wuerzburg.

The man, who German media say was born in the former East Germany, was arrested at home in the small town of Kall in western Germany in June 2013. He is being identified by the German media only by his first names and last initial – Michael Harry K. — in accordance with German laws.

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Parallels
2:22 am
Thu August 7, 2014

When And How To Die: Germany Debates Whose Choice It Is

Originally published on Thu August 7, 2014 7:49 am

Stefan Daniel says he has no control over the multiple sclerosis that is short-circuiting his body.

The disease, which attacks the nervous system, has forced the 51-year-old German psychologist to give up his career and most hobbies, including running and photography.

He spends his days in an electric wheelchair and rarely ventures out of his Berlin apartment.

"It's so difficult for me to open the door," he laments.

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Middle East
2:27 am
Mon August 4, 2014

Is There Any Empathy Left In The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict?

Members of the Israeli security forces stand guard as Palestinian Muslims perform Friday prayers on a street outside the Old City of Jerusalem on Friday.
Ahmad Gharabli AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon August 4, 2014 2:29 pm

In the waiting room at Jerusalem's Hadassah Hospital, an Israeli woman was shouting at a Palestinian mother whose son was being treated for a beating he received from a Jewish mob.

"Go away you trash," the Israeli woman yelled at the Palestinian. "I would bury you in Gaza."

A second Israeli woman joined in the verbal barrage, complaining that her taxes shouldn't be paying for Palestinian treatment.

Two other Israeli women came over to comfort the Palestinian mother. But she is in no mood for reconciliation and retorted: "What good will your apologies do?"

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Parallels
4:14 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Gaza's Network Of Tunnels Is A Major Hole In Israel's Defenses

An Israeli army officer walks near the entrance of a tunnel allegedly used by Palestinian militants for cross-border attacks, at the Israel-Gaza border. A network of tunnels Palestinian militants have dug from Gaza to Israel is taking center stage in the latest war between Hamas and Israel.
Jack Guez AP

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 8:24 am

Israeli officials say the country's deadly ground offensive won't end until its soldiers destroy a vast network of Hamas tunnels the militants use to try to attack Jewish communities outside the Gaza Strip.

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Middle East
5:09 am
Mon July 28, 2014

Israelis Broadly Support Military's Operation In Gaza

Originally published on Mon July 28, 2014 12:52 pm

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

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Middle East
3:35 pm
Fri July 25, 2014

In A Complex Web Of Tunnels, Israel Draws Its Red Line

Originally published on Fri July 25, 2014 6:40 pm

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

Middle East
6:09 am
Fri July 25, 2014

Kerry Awaits Response From Israel, Hamas On Proposed Cease-Fire

Originally published on Fri July 25, 2014 7:14 am

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

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

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Middle East
4:30 am
Wed July 23, 2014

As Gaza Fighting Rages, West Bank Palestinians Can Only Watch

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

Originally published on Wed July 23, 2014 1:31 pm

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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Europe
3:11 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

In Germany, A Case Against Another Alleged American Spy

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

Transcript

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Parallels
4:14 am
Sun July 6, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Sun July 6, 2014 1:48 pm

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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The Salt
4:39 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Wed September 3, 2014 3:26 pm

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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