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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Africa
3:12 pm
Mon April 2, 2012

Once-Thriving Egyptian Port Suffers After Soccer Riot

Egyptian soccer fans clash with riot police following a match between the hometown Al-Masry team and Cairo's Al-Ahly at the soccer stadium in Port Said, Egypt, on Feb. 1.
AP

Originally published on Mon April 2, 2012 5:12 pm

The Egyptian city of Port Said is the northern gateway to one of the world's key shipping lanes, the Suez Canal connecting the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea. With its ornate buildings and clean streets, the sprawling city has one of the highest standards of living in Egypt.

But this year, Port Said has become known for something more sinister: It was the site of Egypt's deadliest soccer riot.

Many of the city's officials and residents say the tragedy has destroyed Port Said's reputation and left them in financial trouble.

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Africa
3:27 am
Mon April 2, 2012

Unease Grows Over Islamist Political Agenda In Egypt

Egyptians protest outside the administrative court in the capital, Cairo, on Tuesday. The protesters are calling for the panel drafting the constitution to be made up entirely of non-parliamentarians. Controversy swirls around the 100-member panel — handpicked by Islamist lawmakers — which includes only a handful of women and Christians.
Gianluigi Guercia AFP/Getty Images

The Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups in Egypt are flexing their growing political muscle. They control the legislative agenda in parliament, and in recent weeks introduced controversial proposals to curb social freedoms and legal rights.

Islamist lawmakers also handpicked a 100-member panel that began meeting this week to write a new constitution, which is widely expected to enshrine Islamic law.

Even so, Islamist leaders say they want Egypt to remain a secular state. But many secular Egyptians are not convinced.

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Africa
11:05 am
Thu March 22, 2012

To Be Heard, Egypt's Bedouin Take Tourists Hostage

A Bedouin guide makes his way down from Mount Sinai to the Greek Orthodox monastery of St. Catherine in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. The Bedouins depend on tourism, but have been kidnapping visitors in recent months in an attempt to pressure Egypt's government.
Mike Nelson EPA/Landov

Originally published on Wed March 28, 2012 4:05 pm

Bedouin tribesmen on Egypt's Sinai Peninsula rely on tourists for their livelihood — taking them on safaris, selling them trinkets, renting them huts at no-frills resorts on the Red Sea.

But these days, some Bedouins are using tourists for something completely different: as hostages in their political battle with the Egyptian government. In one recent incident, the tribesmen kidnapped two Brazilian tourists to secure the release of imprisoned relatives. The kidnappers released the women unharmed a few hours later.

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Sports
12:01 am
Wed March 14, 2012

An American Soccer Coach In Egypt's National Court

The Egyptian national soccer team's American coach, Bob Bradley, attends his team's friendly match against Kenya in the Qatari capital, Doha, in February. The Egyptian team won 5-0.
Karim Jaafar AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 14, 2012 12:24 pm

Anti-Americanism is on the rise in Egypt these days. A highly publicized trial is under way in Cairo against U.S.-funded pro-democracy groups, and Egyptians are making it clear they reject any American involvement in their country's affairs.

There's one exception, however: an American living in Cairo whom Egyptians are counting on to shake things up. His name is Bob Bradley, and he's the New Jersey-born coach of Egypt's struggling national soccer team.

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Middle East
3:25 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Egyptians Prepare For Wide-Open Presidential Poll

Egyptian presidential candidate and former Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa delivers a speech to Bedouins in Ras Sidr during a campaign trip to the South Sinai last week. Egyptians are anticipating the first presidential elections after last year's ouster of Hosni Mubarak.
Asmaa Waguih Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu March 1, 2012 3:00 pm

Egypt's presidential race officially kicks off Saturday, and there are already more than a dozen contenders for what is expected to be the most competitive presidential election ever.

Nevertheless, many Egyptians fear those currently in power will try to manipulate the process to make sure that a candidate of their choosing wins.

At 41, Khaled Ali is the youngest Egyptian vying to be his country's next president.

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Middle East
6:11 am
Sat February 25, 2012

In Egypt, Christian-Muslim Tension Is On The Rise

A Coptic Christian man holds a cross made of flowers during a clash between Christians and Muslims in Cairo in November. Relations are becoming more strained between the two communities, and there has been periodic violence.
Khalil Hamra AP

Originally published on Thu March 29, 2012 5:18 pm

Blackened rubble is all that is left of Abskharon Suleiman's appliance store in the northern Egyptian village of Sharbat.

Suleiman is a Coptic Christian, and his upstairs apartment, as well as his children's homes and shops, were gutted and looted in an attack last month by young Muslim men.

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Middle East
4:59 pm
Thu February 16, 2012

The Woman Behind Egypt's Crackdown On Aid Groups

Egyptian Planning and International Cooperation Minister Faiza Aboul Naga (shown here in Washington, D.C., last April) has repeatedly warned Egyptians about the alleged danger foreigners pose to their country. She is the driving force behind recent efforts to prosecute 43 people, including American and other foreign democracy activists, for operating illegally in Egypt.
Nicholas Kamm AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 16, 2012 6:39 pm

In Egypt, a female Cabinet minister has emerged as the driving force behind a crackdown on U.S.-funded pro-democracy groups.

The attacks of Faiza Aboul Naga — a holdover from the regime of ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak — have made her a hero to many Egyptians who believe she is defending their country's honor. But the threat she poses to billions of dollars in U.S. aid and international loans could make her power short-lived.

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Middle East
4:56 pm
Tue February 14, 2012

Egyptians Harbor Suspicions About U.S. Aid Groups

An Egyptian soldier on an armored vehicle guards an exchange office in Cairo on Monday. Tensions between the U.S. and Egypt are rising over Cairo's investigation of aid workers, many of them American. An Egyptian Cabinet minister, Faiza Aboul Naga, recently accused the U.S. of directly funding pro-democracy groups in order to create chaos in Egypt.
Amr Nabil AP

Originally published on Tue February 14, 2012 6:16 pm

The Egyptian government has further escalated tensions with Washington by accusing U.S. officials of directly funding nonprofit groups to create chaos in the Arab country.

The latest comments were made by an Egyptian Cabinet member to prosecutors conducting a criminal probe into the activities of 43 aid workers, many of them American.

Such claims anger U.S. officials, who have threatened to hold back more than $1 billion in military aid if the crackdown on private, pro-democracy organizations doesn't end.

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Middle East
8:00 am
Sat February 11, 2012

A Year After Mubarak Fell, What Has Egypt Achieved?

Originally published on Sat February 11, 2012 11:46 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.

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NPR Story
8:00 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
4:23 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.

World
3:00 pm
Wed January 25, 2012

Egypt Marks Anniversary Of Revolution

Originally published on Wed January 25, 2012 7:03 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

Cairo's Tahrir Square overflowed with Egyptians today. Traffic was snarled for miles as people jammed bridges and streets. The crowd marked the first anniversary of the popular uprising that drove Hosni Mubarak from power.

And as NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports from Cairo, many people did not come to celebrate.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

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Middle East
4:31 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.

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Middle East
3:43 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.

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World
5:37 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
12:01 am
Mon January 2, 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.

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Middle East
12:01 am
Thu December 29, 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 8:03 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.

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Middle East
4:33 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 11:48 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.

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Middle East
4:01 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.

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Africa
4:00 am
Tue November 29, 2011

Coptic Christians Fear Islamists Will Sweep Egyptian Election

Originally published on Tue November 29, 2011 12:16 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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Africa
3:22 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.

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NPR Story
4:21 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
4:00 am
Wed November 23, 2011

Egyptian Protesters Want Parliamentary Elections Postponed

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)

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Africa
4:00 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.

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Middle East
12:01 am
Wed November 16, 2011

Egyptian Groups Plan Mass Anti-Military Protests

Egyptians attend a rally calling for a rapid transition from military to civilian rule in following the February ouster of president Hosni Mubarak in Cairo's Tahrir Square.
Mahmud Hams AFP/Getty Images

Political parties, activists and Islamist groups in Egypt are threatening more mass protests in Cairo and other cities Friday against a document drafted by the interim government that would enshrine the powers of the Egyptian military.

It's the latest clash between Egypt's pro-democracy factions and the ruling military council, which is accused of clinging to power despite its pledge to cede control to an elected government.

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Middle East
3:14 pm
Tue November 15, 2011

Islamist Parties Proliferate In Post-Mubarak Egypt

Demonstrators from a Salafi group chant slogans and hold posters that read, in Arabic, "Islamic Egypt," during a Sept. 23 protest against emergency law in Cairo. Salafi political parties will be among those vying in upcoming elections.
Khalil Hamra AP

Originally published on Tue November 15, 2011 8:34 pm

Egypt holds parliamentary elections this month and many people expect the outcome to be similar to recent polls in Tunisia, where an Islamist party won the largest bloc of seats.

Nearly a dozen official parties with ties to Islamist groups have sprung up in Egypt since the summer, and most analysts predict they will do well.

Gamal Ashry is one parliamentary candidate. He's with the Freedom and Justice Party, the political offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Arab world's largest and oldest Islamist movement.

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Middle East
12:01 am
Thu November 10, 2011

Saudi Women Drive Change Despite Mixed Signals

Saudi women are getting conflicting messages from their government about whether it intends to expand their rights.

They received a boost from King Abdullah who pledged to give them more political power in the coming years. But new Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdel-Aziz Al Saud is known for his opposition to women's rights.

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Middle East
3:00 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 10:25 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.

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Africa
4:00 am
Thu October 13, 2011

Libyan Guns Pour Into Egypt, Sinai Residents Arm Themselves

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 2:04 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.

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World
3:00 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.

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