Hi everyone! I had a great time doing this and really appreciate your questions. I will try to answer some of the questions left here over the next day, so feel free to keep posting!

Please keep listening to NPR and reading the great coverage on our web site. You can follow our international coverage @npr.parallels. If you like to hear from some of our other international correspondents, please let us know!

Proof & Proof.

Comments: 1576 • Responses: 40  • Date: 

BlerpityBloop701 karma


SorayaNelsonNPR427 karma

Thanks! It was mainly Al Jazeera Misr (or the Egyptian network AJ set up) that was being accused of bias. That was bolstered by the fact Qatar, which funds AJ, also supported the Muslim Brotherhood. My colleague Kelly McEvers did a more definitive story about that subject, I'd suggest going back to read that and listen to it on www.npr.org.

Greci01342 karma

Do you believe that the State Department should call the recent overthrow of Morsi a military coup and thus resulting in the foregoing of aid to Egypt? Or do you line with the Department and not call it a coup?

SorayaNelsonNPR1528 karma

As a journalist, I don't discuss what I think -- My job is to be an observer and to try and give the listeners enough information to reach their own conclusions on events. However, NPR editorially has decided to call this a military coup.

Flash_Harry545 karma

Uh what does any of this have to do with the royal baby?

SorayaNelsonNPR504 karma

Good question! ;-)

Homer_Brookings324 karma

Do you get the impression that people really trust the military or are they just out of options?

SorayaNelsonNPR477 karma

Egyptians have for many decades looked to the military as almost a parental figure so there is that intrinsic trust. Also, the military gained a lot of points with youth groups by backing their uprising against Hosni Mubarak that led to his ouster. But when the generals ruled Egypt after Mubarak and before Mohammed Morsi took power, the military's popularity sank. Its latest act to oust the Islamists won them majority approval again despite the clashes we are seeing now.

chibitenshin155 karma

I was in Egypt 2 weeks ago, and when we went to Hurgada 4 F-16 airplanes flew over all the hotels there. We interpreted it as the army showing off that the tourists are save and being watched over. Do you know anything more about it? It was quite scary for a few seconds

SorayaNelsonNPR295 karma

They've been doing a lot of flyovers for the benefit of the Egyptian population more than anyone else. A "we're your military and we are here for you and your protection" sort of thing. You should have seen the police helicopters that were flying barely thirty feet above the bridges and below the rooftops of various buildings in downtown a few weeks back.

dmmagic234 karma

No questions, but thank you for what you do. I always enjoy your reports, and stories like what you bring to NPR are a large part of why I am a sustaining member.

SorayaNelsonNPR167 karma

Thank you!

FrontalMonk114 karma

seconding dmmagic's thoughts, I listen to NPR every morning and I really enjoy your work! Thanks for everything!

SorayaNelsonNPR158 karma

You guys are making me blush!

samprimary197 karma

Given your proximity to the issue:

What's your personal take on the extraordinary amount of rapes and episodes of sexual harassment of women that the country us dealing with? Individually, do you feel safe, do you have to take additional precautions?

SorayaNelsonNPR310 karma

I definitely take extra precautions as does my female and male staff for that matter. Much of that is making sure we aren't out late, that we travel in groups and avoid certain streets off Tahrir Square where the attacks have been centered, that we have an exit strategy. The main problem is lack of law enforcement rather than any Egyptian-specific thing. Mob attacks are not unique to Egypt.

jcorral8879 karma

Do you take extra precautions towards any specific group? Are any of the parties involved more welcoming or hostile?

SorayaNelsonNPR180 karma

Depends on the week. At the moment, the Muslim Brotherhood and pro-Morsi protestors are much more welcoming of Western reporters than others. That wasn't my experience case in the days leading up to the coup, however, when it was the other way around.

JNJ08904159 karma

What is the current plan in place that the military is trying to accomplish now that Morsi is ousted?

SorayaNelsonNPR247 karma

Set up an interim president and cabinet, rewrite the constitution that will then be put to a national vote and then hold national elections. But it's pretty clear that in all of these steps, the military will ensure its power and economic interests are preserved, which is something the generals worried about under Morsi.

fuckinglibertarians162 karma

Can you elaborate on the economic interest of the Egyptian military? I feel like most people are unaware that the military is so interested in preserving their dominance is because of economic reasons.

SorayaNelsonNPR297 karma

They are believed to run anywhere from 10 percent to a third of the country's economy. They own a lot of factories and businesses. They have their own gas stations that sell to Egyptians, manufacture bottled water and electrical appliances for Egyptians and even produce their own cement. So it's not like our military in the States.

hollieoc104 karma

As a foreign correspondent, how do you get Americans to relate to/care about international issues? It seems it's hard enough to get the public to care about news that affects them directly.

SorayaNelsonNPR153 karma

I people tend to worry about or revel in the same things no matter where we are. Although most Americans I've met also love stories about things that are completely different from their experience. So I try to find subjects/issues/experiences that cross those international boundaries.

flounder19103 karma

How does the attitude about the whole ordeal differ between the metropolitan areas of Egypt that receive the most coverage and the more rural areas? Were the protests we saw the voice of a vocal minority or actually indicative of Egyptian sentiment?

SorayaNelsonNPR118 karma

There is no doubt that much of the anti-Morsi sentiment in the build-up to the coup was centered in metropolitan areas, but that doesn't mean everyone in the countryside was pro-Morsi. Certainly clashes between the sides now are happening everywhere and of particular concern is the Sinai where militants are carrying out a lot of attacks.

roonerhasit103 karma

Will Egypt ever have a functioning democracy?

SorayaNelsonNPR198 karma

Actually, it does (or did) have a functioning democracy and that's what the military-backed interim government claims it's trying to get back to despite the arguably unorthodox steps it's taking to get there. But it's also a new democracy in a country where there is so much illiteracy and poverty that people are still trying to discover what democracy means.

DamienJaxx97 karma

Awesome, I love NPR and your reporting is absolutely great!

What do you think is going to happen to Morsi, especially since he hasn't been seen since his ouster?

Do you think there can actually be a stable democratic government there with the military and the beauracracy (ie, those officials I've heard about who didn't like Morsi and tried to stall projects) remaining an everlasting threat?

SorayaNelsonNPR111 karma

Thanks! Many Egyptians I've spoken to feel Morsi will be the scapegoat. No one seems to think he'll be returned to power despite the clashes that are happening and many analysts predict Muslim Brotherhood leaders will sacrifice him if you will in exchange for some sort of deal with the military that protects them.

Daegoba89 karma


SorayaNelsonNPR69 karma

Thank you!

quick_quip_whip81 karma

I traveled to Egypt as a tourist for a few weeks when I was younger, and a lot of people's livelihoods seemed dependent on the tourist industry. With all of the chaos present since the onset of Egypt's troubles, how would you say the average person is affected by both the loss of tourism? Have many people been turning to other jobs with success, especially in the crowded city of Cairo? What jobs?

SorayaNelsonNPR117 karma

The tourism industry has been a major slump since Hosni Mubarak's ouster, with the one exception being beach tourism in places like Sharm el Sheikh. The economy is so shaky that there really hasn't been an alternative for tourism workers. That economic instability is in large part what led people to the streets against Morsi last month.

Take_THAT_Society64 karma

Mz. Nelson, thank you for doing this AMA.

Was Mr. Morsi's ouster motivated by secular desires to remove Islamic influence from the government?

If not, what do you think was the primary motivation behind the deposition of Mr. Morsi?

SorayaNelsonNPR111 karma

The concern over the Brotherhood's and Salafists focus on Islamist tenets and laws was a large part of it. But so was a concern that Morsi would dismantle the judiciary, which is highly respected in Egypt.

Take_THAT_Society41 karma

Interesting, thank you for the perspective.

Would you mind shedding some light on Morsi's (real or perceived) moves to dismantle the judiciary?

SorayaNelsonNPR85 karma

The courts -- and it's important to remember the judges were mostly appointed during Mubarak's time -- dissolved parliament and ruled against him on his removal of the country's top prosecutor. So it's not completely paranoia on his part. But many Egyptians also felt Morsi's attack on the judiciary was part of his plan to establish autocratic rule.

nowgetbacktowork61 karma

Discussing this event with Egyptian friends my view of it has become confused to say the least. Most Egyptians (at least it seems) think the military was just imposing the wishes of the population. I feel that this can lead to an uncontrolled slide into a military state. A biggest army wins scenario is frightening to me. Was there no legal way to extract Morsi without the military? If there is no legal process to depose a failed leader, how will Egypt ever move towards stability?

SorayaNelsonNPR90 karma

That was the argument I heard a lot -- that there was no impeachment process, especially since the lower house of parliament had been dissolved by the courts. Plus that Morsi was practicing a "ballotocracy" to borrow a phrase from the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights -- Enforcing his and the Muslim Brotherhood's vision for Egypt and refusing to include other voices in the decision-making process.

EdrawdSnowden59 karma

Can you give us a TLDR for the crisis in Eygpt?

SorayaNelsonNPR169 karma

Can you tell me what TLDR is? I speak a number of languages, but am not as well versed in online. :-)

EdrawdSnowden81 karma

It stands for Too Long Didn't Read but basically it just means the shortest summary you can possibly make

A very short single setnence would be ideal

If you need some inspiration use /r/bestofTLDR

SorayaNelsonNPR315 karma

Egyptians trying to make their young democracy work. Or, new democracies are a messy business!

Fotohead_8440 karma

The situation in Egypt seems circular. Citizens are unhappy with current leadership, protest, replace leader, rinse and repeat. What does Egypt want in a leader? What is the current interim government plan to do to create a stable political environment? Thanks!

SorayaNelsonNPR97 karma

Morsi was the first democratically elected leader they replaced, so it's not really rinse and repeat. But there's some feeling that the military, judiciary and veteran politicans are using Egyptian distress over a bad economy and bad leadership to try and solidify their own hold on power. So while the interim government promises elections, it will be important to pay attention to what actions they take along the way that could in the end, limit Egypt's democracy.

InVivoVeritas38 karma

I and some friends would like to travel to Egypt in September or October-- would you advise against this?

SorayaNelsonNPR63 karma

It's hard to predict what's going to happen next week, let alone a month or two from now. But I've not heard of tourists being targets during this latest turmoil.

bulletPoint31 karma

What's your take on the story on NPR from this morning that correlates US aid with hatred of the US? It appears the countries we provide most aid to hate us the most, Egypt included.

SorayaNelsonNPR72 karma

It's important to remember that most of the aid we give to Egypt goes to the military. Plus Egyptians on the streets tend to take a dim view of Israel and America is seen as that Middle Eastern country's number one supporter.

JoJo_Potatoes27 karma

How are the problems in Egypt going to affect those of us in the United States? What's a worst case scenario? What's a best case scenario?

SorayaNelsonNPR72 karma

The big question is what the US is going to do next -- will they declare Morsi's ouster a military coup and withhold its billion plus dollars in aid to the Egyptian armed forces? Will it not? The concern, of course is that if America endorses the overthrow, it may drive more Islamists into the arms of radical groups that advocate violence.

ruffianstjames26 karma

Thank you for doing this, it's very cool you would take time out of your date to help educate us through this medium.

Admittedly, I haven't followed this as closely as I would like. That said, as an average American what should I be taking away from this Egyptian crisis? Is it a possible revolution that could spread worldwide(has it already?), and could the ramifications of this be felt in this nation? Also, is the talk we've heard here in the States that the crisis is affecting gas prices a legitimate claim or is it a smokescreen that is being used out of convenience?

SorayaNelsonNPR46 karma

It's clear that Egypt is struggling to define itself as a new democracy. And that there are painful bumps along the way. And that some forces take advantage of those bumps, both in Egypt and outside.

The major gas shortage in Egypt (as well as rolling blackouts) that were part of what drove people into the street against Morsi last month ended the day after he was removed from office. So take away from that what you will.

MisterHandy26 karma

How exactly did Morsi's removal go down? Was he taken at gunpoint? Did the military have to force their way in to arrest him?

SorayaNelsonNPR50 karma

No one knows exactly how it happened nor where he's being held. His family today held a press conference to say he was "kidnapped." One of his aides told my colleague Leila Fadel that the phones of Morsi and his top aides went dead pretty quickly so it's clear they were being held against their will. And still are.

Pharinet24 karma

How has the crisis affected archaeological work in Egypt? Have sites been closed down? Is it more difficult for researchers to gain access to digs, museums, and resources?

SorayaNelsonNPR44 karma

Since 2011, there's been a sharp uptick in looting of historical artifacts and it has been more difficult for researchers to gain access. Those elected to power didn't see Egyptian archeology as one of their main issues and tourism, which also drives this work, is also way down.

RoadYoda23 karma

Good morning Soraya. Despite the reports of Morsi being democratically elected, do you believe the election was 100% fair and legitimate, or do you believe the Muslim Brotherhood unfairly influeced and/or rigged the election to put Morsi in power?

SorayaNelsonNPR43 karma

I don't think it was rigged, at least not in any definitive way, and yes, the Muslim Brotherhood political machine was out there as were the Salafists and to a lesser extent others, although much less intrusive than during the parliamentary polls. But it's important to remember that the MB in fact had the largest political base because their network was decades in the making unlike other, newer parties. (even though the MB was banned under Mubarak).

nimitzhunter23 karma

With no definitive government,who funds the Egyptian military?

SorayaNelsonNPR52 karma

The government is still working and the military has always ruled itself (and collected billions in US aid over the years). So they aren't hurting for cash like other Egyptians, at least not at the moment.

deminicus22 karma

Why did things so quickly fall apart? Did people expect that everything would be fixed so quickly after the new gov was put in place. Idk if Morsi was doing a good job or not but am assuming that real change takes time. Did people perceive that democracy was a solution to their problems or a means to arrive at solutions? I don't see democracy working until elected leaders give up power once their term is up or they are voted out. Are these events partly the result of a culture that is inexperienced with the realities of democracy?

SorayaNelsonNPR36 karma

In the end, most Egyptians wanted to see some improvement to their daily lives and an end to oppression by the police and state. But since 2011, the Egyptian economy crumbled, inflation and crime rose. Add to that a perception that the Islamists were trying to enshrine their power and many people weren't willing to wait until the next election to bring about change. So yes, there was impatience.

lapearce19 karma

First off, I'm a big fan of your work. Do you feel that the military did the right thing by ousting Morsi or do you think it was a mistake?

SorayaNelsonNPR43 karma

Thanks! I can't speak to my opinion, but based on what Egyptians and analysts are tell me, it definitely was a game-changer that could well threaten the future of democracy in that country.

MooRogue19 karma

What is your opinion on traveling to Egypt right now?

Specifically to Cairo on business? The US Department of State currently has a travel warning to cancel or postpone non-essential travel to Egypt.

SorayaNelsonNPR42 karma

I don't think you'll run into a lot of problems unless you plan to hang out at protests or some of the more dicey areas like Sinai. Not sure how easy it is to conduct business though in a country without a constitution and an interim government that's still trying to set itself up.

dodgej16 karma

Thank you for all of your great work! I just want to say I love your voice, and whenever I hear you finish a story with "Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, NPR news, [location]" it makes me smile.

SorayaNelsonNPR14 karma

Thank you!

Revere1215 karma

Who at the NPR Christmas party do you always make a point of talking to? Who do you most hope to bump into at the punch bowl?

SorayaNelsonNPR38 karma

I'm based overseas so I've never been to an NPR Christmas party!

Alphakyl14 karma

Do you think that the Arab Spring, or Egypt's Revolution could produce a liberal democracy like those found in western nations, or are there too many cultural barriers?

SorayaNelsonNPR51 karma

I'm not sure how liberal democracies are in the West.

AnasAbdin13 karma

Hello Soraya.

I want to ask you since you work in media, what do you think about the honesty and reliability of Egyptian media?

SorayaNelsonNPR23 karma

It's been a bit of a question mark since the coup. It seems that many independent outlets have also taken sides in this crisis and their stories reflect that.

WhiteyDude8 karma

I just yesterday heard the story about the "deep" government problem in Egypt. Employees within the bureaucracies that can and do resist changes and have the power to affect the success of any new regime. What do you think would be the path to success for any new leader in Egypt, to effect the necessary change while maintaining the existing core government agencies?

SorayaNelsonNPR14 karma

It's clear the first thing the new government will have to do is improve the lives of Egyptians (improve wages, end food and fuel shortages, improve services,etc.) while instituting reforms that will prevent or at least reduce corruption, streamline government and make Egypt more sound economically. That's a tall order that won't be done fast enough to anyone's satisfaction in Egypt, despite the infusion of $8 billion in aid and cash from regional allies in recent weeks.

Nepharyte7 karma

Hello Soraya and thanks for doing this AMA. I recently finished reading Sex and the Citadel by Shereen El Feki. Though its scope covers the Middle East and North Africa, most seems to be in Egypt. Have you had a chance to read it and if so, what do you think of it?

SorayaNelsonNPR14 karma

I haven't read it yet, I'm afraid.