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.


8:00 am
Sat August 27, 2011

Libyan Rebels Plan Rule, Prepare Final Assault

Originally published on Sat August 27, 2011 10:53 am


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.

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Culture And Traditions
3:16 pm
Fri July 29, 2011

At 7 Days, Egyptian Babies Mark First Rite Of Passage

Israa Saad Diab lifts the cover from her son Hamza's face, while her husband, Ibrahim Muhammad, watches, after the traditional Sebou ceremony in Mansoura, Egypt, on May 27.
Holly Pickett for NPR

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:36 am

In Egypt, survival and the number 7 are inextricably linked. It's on the seventh day that a child's existence is first formally acknowledged to the world in a ritual that dates back to Pharaonic times.

But the ancient tradition — called the Sebou — has taken on new and not always happy turns since a revolution earlier this year ousted longtime President Hosni Mubarak.

Building An Infant's Character

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Middle East
12:01 am
Wed July 13, 2011

Rifts Develop In Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood

In Egypt, the once-banned Muslim Brotherhood is now the most organized political force in the country. It is poised to capture a significant amount of power in nationwide elections being planned for the fall.

But dissension in the brotherhood's ranks has been growing since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak. Key figures in the group are bolting, and at least one has been expelled, causing some in Egypt to question whether the decades-old movement can survive.

Members Split Off For New Parties

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Reporter's Notebook
12:01 am
Thu June 30, 2011

Tripoli's Lone Chinese Restaurant Still Delivers

Chef Lao Wei Xiong cooks up a carry-out order for foreign reporters in the kitchen at al Maida restaurant in Tripoli.

Most foreigners fled Libya earlier this year when a popular uprising to oust Moammar Gadhafi turned into a brutal war. But in Tripoli, one Chinese family that runs a restaurant is trying to hang on.

Few people come to al Maida Chinese restaurant, which once counted Gadhafi's son, Seif al-Islam, among its customers. NATO airstrikes and gun-toting thugs make eating out an unsavory prospect for most people still in the capital.

The exceptions are foreign journalists seeking an escape from the lackluster cuisine of the hotel they are restricted to by the Libyan government.

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Conflict In Libya
4:00 am
Tue June 14, 2011

In Libya's Gasoline Shortage, Women Get A Break

Volunteer Ibtisam Saadeddin, who wears a khaki uniform and a badge and pins with photos of Moammar Gadhafi, says she patrols the line at the women-only gas station to make sure no fights break out.
Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson NPR

For Libyans, one of the main hardships caused by the worldwide campaign against their leader, Moammar Gadhafi, is a nationwide shortage of gasoline.

Fighting has nearly ground to a halt the oil-rich nation's ability to refine fuel. A naval blockade keeps any fuel tankers from leaving or reaching the North African nation's ports.

The shortage has led to cars lining up as far as the eye can see outside Libyan gas stations providing what little fuel is left at normal prices. But being a woman there means you may not have to wait as long to fill up.

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