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.

Pages

Middle East
6:00 am
Sat February 11, 2012

A Year After Mubarak Fell, What Has Egypt Achieved?

Originally published on Sat February 11, 2012 9:46 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Now let's move to Egypt where one year ago today mounting protests forced Hosni Mubarak to step down as president. Last February, millions of jubilant Egyptians poured out onto the streets across the country, but that mood has given way to widespread frustration. Many Egyptians object to the continued hold on power by Mubarak's military allies, a rapidly weakening economy and the failure to bring the former president to justice. This week we spoke with people around Cairo about their impressions one year on.

Read more
NPR Story
6:00 am
Sat January 28, 2012

Egyptians Divide As They Celebrate Together

This week, Egyptians marked the first anniversary of the uprising that led to the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak. Deepening political divisions between pro-Islamist and secular protesters marred the event, erupting into violent scuffles. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports.

Middle East
2:23 am
Fri January 27, 2012

Authorities Bar 6 Americans From Leaving Egypt

Egyptian authorities are preventing six Americans, including the son of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, from leaving the country. They work for non-governmental agencies that were raided by Egyptian security forces last month.

Middle East
2:31 pm
Mon January 23, 2012

In Egypt, Islamists Take Control Of A New Parliament

Egypt's recently elected parliament, which is dominated by Islamists, held its first session in Cairo on Monday. The challenges facing the legislature include coming up with a new constitution.
Asmaa Waguih AP

Egypt's Islamists formalized their new stature on Monday as the first freely elected parliament in six decades held its inaugural session in Cairo.

The session was broadcast live on Egyptian state television and was largely spent swearing in the 508 members, most of whom belong to the Muslim Brotherhood and ultra-conservative Salafist movement.

But outside the parliament, not everyone was celebrating.

Read more
Middle East
1:43 pm
Wed January 4, 2012

Egypt's Street Kids Are Revolution's Smallest Soldiers

In Egypt, a disturbing trend has emerged in recent clashes between protesters and security forces: children placing themselves on the front lines.

Activists say several have been killed or wounded in recent months by gunfire and tear gas. Plus, one out of every four protesters thrown in jail following clashes in December was a child.

Their advocates say most, if not all, of these kids live on Cairo's streets, and that they see the revolution as a way to escape their isolation from society.

Read more
World
3:37 pm
Tue January 3, 2012

Egyptians Discuss Final Stage Of Parliament Vote

The third stage in Egypt's parliamentary elections got underway Tuesday. In upper Egypt, tensions between Muslims and Christians have intensified in the aftermath of the ouster of Hosni Mubarak. Qena is a stronghold of the ultra-conservative Salafi movement, and its members have clashed repeatedly with local Coptic Christians over the past year.

Middle East
10:01 pm
Sun January 1, 2012

Egypt, Tunisia Try To Turn Elections Into Democracy

Egypt is holding parliamentary elections, but the military remains the most powerful force in the country. Here, election officials take away ballot boxes from a polling station in Cairo on Nov. 29, 2011.
Odd Andersen AFP/Getty Images

One year ago, the people of Tunisia and Egypt rose up against their autocratic rulers and forced them from power. Those revolutions spread across the Arab World, leading to the region's biggest upheaval in decades. It's still not clear how these seismic changes will play out, and so far, the results have been mixed. Today, NPR begins a six-part series looking at where the region stands today. In our first story, NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports on the elections in Egypt and Tunisia as these countries struggle to build democracies.

Read more
Middle East
10:01 pm
Wed December 28, 2011

Will Islamist Politicians Hamper Egyptian Tourism?

Tourists visit the Sphinx and the Pyramids of Giza near Cairo. Tourist numbers have plummeted this year with the political turmoil in Egypt. Now, some Islamist politicians are proposing rules that could discourage visitors.
Jamal Saidi Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Thu December 29, 2011 6:03 am

Islamists are widely expected to hold a majority of seats in Egypt's new parliament when it convenes next month, and a leading priority is the sagging economy.

Yet their conservative religious approach could threaten a key pillar of Egypt's economy: Western tourists.

The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party received many votes from vendors at the Khan el-Khalili market, a hub for tourists in Cairo with narrow twisting lanes and soaring minarets.

Read more
Middle East
2:33 pm
Wed December 14, 2011

Egyptian Islamists Favored In Second Phase Of Voting

Women stand in line to cast their votes in Suez, Egypt, on Wednesday. For months after the revolution, the port city had no government or services. Some voters are turning to the Salafists or the Muslim Brotherhood to bring change.
Eman Helal AP

Originally published on Tue January 31, 2012 9:48 am

A steady stream of voters showed up Wednesday at polling centers in the port city of Suez and eight other governorates in Egypt. Islamists are expecting to boost their lead in the second phase of the country's landmark parliamentary elections.

The first phase was held last month, and the third and final phase will come next month as the country votes by region.

At a school called "Freedom" in Suez, many women were heavily veiled with only their eyes showing.

Read more
Africa
2:00 am
Tue December 13, 2011

Egypt To Begin Second Round Of Parliamentary Elections

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 10:29 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

In Egypt, Islamists are once again expected to dominate at the ballot box, in the second round of parliamentary elections. Their anticipated win in a vote that begins tomorrow has many secular Egyptians fearing the new parliament will turn their country into a theocracy. Secular candidates say they will not go down without a fight. Some are even trying to use religion to lure voters away from the Islamists.

NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson has this report from Cairo.

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD CHATTER IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

Read more
Middle East
2:01 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

Islamist Parties At Odds In Egypt's Ongoing Elections

Egyptian soldiers stand in front of campaign posters for candidates from the hard-line Islamist Salafist Al-Nour party, in the coastal city of Alexandria.
AFP/Getty Images

As the Egyptian elections roll on over the course of several more weeks, the incoming parliament looks likely to be dominated by Islamists. But the two leading Islamist blocs have little in common and are doing their best to undermine each other.

The Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists do not get along in Alexandria's working-class slum of Abu Suleiman. Outside one polling station, the tension is thick as campaign workers for each group's political party hand out fliers.

Read more
Africa
2:00 am
Tue November 29, 2011

Coptics Fear Islamists Will Sweep Egypt Elections

Originally published on Tue November 29, 2011 10:16 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Read more
Africa
1:22 pm
Mon November 28, 2011

In Egypt's Vote, Islamists Expect Strong Showing

Sobhi Saleh, right, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood and candidate for parliament, speaks to voters at a polling station in Alexandria, Egypt on Monday. The Brotherhood is expected to make a strong showing in the polls.
Tarek Fawzy AP

Dozens of veiled women tried to squeeze past each other Monday and into a polling station in the working-class neighborhood of Raml in the northern Egyptian city of Alexandria.

They were eager to cast ballots for a clean-shaven man in a crisp blue suit and matching tie.

His name is Sobhi Saleh and he heads the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party ticket in three of Alexandria's districts. The party is considered the best organized in Egypt and is expected to do well in the country's first election since President Hosni Mubarak was toppled in February.

Read more
NPR Story
2:21 pm
Fri November 25, 2011

Political Protests In Egypt Intensify, Expand

Egypt's military rulers named a former prime minister under Hosni Mubarak to head the new government. The move is likely to further incite the tens of thousands of protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square, demanding the resignation of the ruling military council. And for the first time, pro-military protesters gathered in another of Cairo's squares.

Africa
2:00 am
Wed November 23, 2011

Egyptian Elections To Go On As Planned Monday

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

And I'm Linda Wertheimer. In Egypt, a much anticipated speech by the top military ruler failed to address the demands of a growing number of protestors around the country.

HUSSEIN TANTAWI: (Foreign language spoken)

Read more
Africa
2:00 am
Tue November 22, 2011

Amid Clashes, Egypt's Cabinet Offers To Resign

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

And I'm Linda Wertheimer in for Renee Montagne.

Clashes between protestors and security forces continue across Egypt. That's despite an offer last night by the interim civilian cabinet to resign.

Read more
Middle East
1:00 pm
Fri November 18, 2011

Analysts: Fate Of Egyptian Revolution At Stake

Originally published on Fri November 18, 2011 6:02 pm

Transcript

GUY RAZ, HOST:

In Egypt today, a rare move. Islamists and secular activists joined forces in several cities for a protest. They want to pressure their military rulers to cede control to an elected civilian government. The protest was sparked by a document floated by the interim government. It would give the Egyptian armed forces unchecked power.

NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson went back to Cairo's now famous Tahrir Square and found tens of thousands of demonstrators.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHANTING CROWD)

Read more
Middle East
1:00 pm
Thu October 13, 2011

Saudi Arabia's Delicate Dance On The Fate Of Yemen

Thousands of anti-government protesters in Yemen demonstrate against President Ali Abdullah Saleh last month. Saudi Arabia wants Saleh to step down, but also worries that his departure could lead to chaos.

Mohammed Huwais AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 13, 2011 8:25 pm

Saudi Arabia, which places a premium on stability, appears to be sending mixed messages these days on what it wants from its volatile southern neighbor, Yemen.

On one hand, the kingdom is demanding that Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh step aside after months of protests against his more than 30 years of rule.

Read more
Africa
8:00 am
Thu October 13, 2011

Libyan Arms Flow Into Egypt Across Northern Sinai

Ali Madaan, 45, is one of the Bedouin guards protecting the al-Midan station in Egypt's northern Sinai. The natural gas pipeline there has come under repeated attacks.

Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson NPR

Originally published on Thu October 13, 2011 12:04 pm

The Sinai Peninsula has proven a major security headache for Egypt's military rulers since a popular uprising ousted President Hosni Mubarak eight months ago.

Gunmen who crossed over the border into Israel from southern Sinai killed eight civilians in August. In northern Sinai, unknown assailants have repeatedly attacked a natural gas pipeline feeding Israel and Jordan.

But what ultimately may prove more problematic for Egyptian authorities is the growing number of northern Sinai residents who are arming themselves with heavy weapons coming in from Libya.

Read more
World
1:00 pm
Mon October 10, 2011

In Egypt, Grief Among Coptic Christians Turns To Rage

Christians protest outside St. Mark's Cathedral in Cairo, a day after 25 people, mostly Christians, died in clashes with Egyptian security forces.

Mahmud Hams AFP/Getty Images

Ormany Makary's coffin teetered precariously as throngs of mourners carried the 25-year-old truck driver's body to the front of Abbasiya Cathedral, chanting "Raise up your head, you are Copts!"

But his fiancee, Saafa Gaber, couldn't.

Makary was among the 25 people killed in a night of clashes between mostly Coptic Christian protesters and Egyptian soldiers.

Read more
Middle East
12:53 pm
Thu September 29, 2011

In Saudi Arabia, Only Men Vote, And Not Often

Saudi men wait to cast their votes in municipal elections in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Thursday. Turnout appeared to be low. King Abdullah says that women will be allowed to vote in the next municipal elections, in 2015.
Hassan Ammar AP

Originally published on Thu September 29, 2011 6:16 pm

In Saudi Arabia, where King Abdullah has the only vote that really counts, elections are still a novelty.

Municipal elections on Thursday marked just the third ballot in the kingdom's history. Only men could vote in polls to fill half the seats on some 300 municipal councils. The other half are appointed by the government.

Even before the polls closed, Saudi officials declared the election a success. But turnout appeared low at many voting stations, including in the capital, Riyadh.

Read more
Middle East
2:58 am
Mon September 26, 2011

In Egypt, Mubarak-Era Emergency Law To Stay

Egyptian demonstrators protest against the emergency law in front of the Interior Ministry in Cairo on Friday. The country's military rulers announced last week that the Hosni Mubarak-era measure would remain in effect until at least next June.
Khalil Hamra AP

Originally published on Mon September 26, 2011 7:54 am

Egypt's military rulers announced that a decades-old emergency law curtailing civil rights will continue until at least next June.

Ending the controversial law was a key demand of Egyptian protesters who forced former President Hosni Mubarak from power in February. But the military, which planned to lift the emergency law before parliamentary elections scheduled in November, said last week it had no choice but to employ the draconian measure after a mob attack on the Israeli Embassy earlier this month.

Read more
Middle East
10:01 pm
Wed September 21, 2011

Egypt's Political Turmoil Drives Foreign Tourists Away

Tourist guides sit on camels as they wait for clients next to the Giza pyramids on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt, June 23. Tourism in Egypt has dropped 35 percent overall in the first half of this year compared with the same period in 2010.
Khalil Hamra AP

The big losers of the Arab Spring in Egypt aren't just Hosni Mubarak and his allies.

Before the February revolution, one of every seven Egyptians made a living in the tourism industry. But nearly seven months after the popular uprising, foreign tourists are still largely staying away.

Their absence has delivered a multibillion-dollar financial blow that is reverberating from luxury tour operators down to vendors in Cairo's bazaars.

Read more
Middle East
4:48 am
Mon September 5, 2011

Mubarak Trial Resumes In Egypt

In Cairo, the trial of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is scheduled to resume Monday. On the first day that testimony is expected, the judge has banned cameras from the courtroom. Mubarak is accused of ordering the killing of protesters during the uprising earlier this year. The 83-year-old denies the charges.

Africa
3:13 pm
Tue August 30, 2011

Libyan Rebels Set Deadline For Surrender

Libyan rebel fighters advance in their tank about 60 miles east of the town of Sirte on Tuesday, Aug. 30. Sirte is Moammar Gadhafi's hometown and the last bastion of his loyalist forces.
Eric Feferberg AFP/Getty Images

Libya's rebels say they have more than 10,000 fighters surrounding Moammar Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte and are waiting for the order to attack.

The rebel officials say that order will be given this Saturday. But over the next few days, they will try to negotiate the peaceful surrender of Sirte, the last major bastion of Gadhafi's forces.

Read more
Conflict In Libya
12:35 pm
Mon August 29, 2011

Libya's Ex-Prisoners Finding Their Way Home

The walls of the Libyan Red Crescent office in Benghazi, Libya, shown here on Monday, are covered with photos of the missing. Some disappeared during Libya's revolution, but some have been missing for more than 10 years. Now, thousands released from Libya's prisons are being reunited with their families.
Susannah George NPR

Originally published on Mon August 29, 2011 6:06 pm

In Libya, thousands of rebel fighters and political prisoners freed from Moammar Gadhafi's notorious prisons are making their way home. But tens of thousands more are still missing.

Anxious relatives and friends in the eastern city of Benghazi have flooded the airport and docks night after night in hopes of finding their loved ones arriving by plane or by boat.

Read more
Africa
6:00 am
Sat August 27, 2011

Libyan Rebels Plan Rule, Prepare Final Assault

Originally published on Sat August 27, 2011 8:53 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, host: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News, I'm Scott Simon. Libyan rebels say they've secured most of Tripoli and taken a key border crossing to Tunisia. That crossing is vital to getting food and supplies into the Libyan capital where the human situation is growing dire. Members of the rebel council in Benghazi say they're relocating to Tripoli where they will set up an interim government that will rule Libya into 2012. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson is in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi. Soraya, thanks for being with us.

Read more

Pages