Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson

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is an American journalist. She currently directs the National Public Radio (NPR) bureau in Cairo

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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.

SorayaNelsonNPR504 karma

Good question! ;-)

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.

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

SorayaNelsonNPR315 karma

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.