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October 3rd, 2013
04:06 PM ET

Pope calls Italian shipwreck a 'disgrace'

Rome (CNN)–A boat carrying as many as 500 people capsized and caught fire off the Italian island of Lampedusa, the nation's coast guard told CNN on Thursday.

The official death toll stands at 93 but that did not include an estimated 20 newly discovered bodies that remain in the water, the coast guard said.

At least 151 people had been rescued in the ongoing operation, the coast guard said.

Lampedusa, not far from Sicily and the closest Italian island to Africa, has become a destination for tens of thousands of refugees seeking to enter European Union countries. Deadly shipwrecks en route are common.

The latest boat to sink is thought to have been carrying up to 500 people. Those aboard include Eritreans, Somalis and Ghanaians, the coast guard said, and the boat is believed to have launched from Libya's coast.

Editor's Note: CNN Belief Blog Co-editor Eric Marrapodi was in Lampedusa last week, reporting on Muslim migration into the European Union.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Africa • Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Egypt • Islam • Libya • Pope Francis • Tunisia

Tunisian artist graffitis minaret, fights intolerance
September 21st, 2012
05:03 AM ET

Tunisian artist graffitis minaret, fights intolerance

By Catriona Davies, CNN

Fine Arabic calligraphy and street art may seem worlds apart, but for artist eL Seed, they're one and the same thing.

eL Seed, a 31-year-old French Tunisian artist, has just used his distinctive style of Arabic street art, which he calls "calligraffiti," to decorate the tallest minaret in Tunisia with a verse from the Quran that tackles intolerance.

The mural, on the Jara Mosque in eL Seed's hometown of Gabes is 47 meters tall, 10 meters wide and covers two sides of the minaret, his biggest artwork to date.

eL Seed said he was reacting to clashes between hardline Islamist Salafists and artists at an art fair in Tunis in June that showed works the Salafists believed was insulting to Islam.

FULL STORY
- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Islam • Tunisia

Tunisian Jewish pilgrimage cancelled amid North Africa tensions
A rabbi drinks a glass of fig alcohol at the 2010 pilgrimage to Derba, a Tunisian island.
May 18th, 2011
04:16 PM ET

Tunisian Jewish pilgrimage cancelled amid North Africa tensions

By Joe Sterling, CNN

(CNN) - The political tension bubbling across Tunisia, Libya and the rest of North Africa has forced the cancellation of an annual Jewish pilgrimage to a historic synagogue on the Tunisian island of Djerba.

Roger Bismuth, a leader in the Tunisian Jewish community, said the community is concerned about the possibility of disruptions amid the ferment in Tunisia and the warfare in nearby Libya.

"We are scared people will take the opportunity to do something," said Bismuth, leader of a community that endured a deadly 2002 al Qaeda truck bombing in Djerba. "It's irresponsible to do it."

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Africa • Judaism • Tunisia

January 22nd, 2011
07:48 PM ET

Islamic parties emerging in Tunisia but playing limited role

After decades of one party rule, new parties, including Islamic parties, emerge in Tunisia. CNN's Ben Wedeman reports.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Africa • Islam • Politics • Tunisia

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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.

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