August 20th, 2012
11:40 AM ET

Girl held on Pakistan blasphemy charge

By Katie Hunt and Nasir Habib, CNN

(CNN) - An 11-year-old Christian girl has been arrested and detained on charges of blasphemy for allegedly desecrating pages from the Quran in the Pakistan capital Islamabad.

According to a statement released by the President's office on Sunday, the girl, identified as Ramsha, was accused by a local resident of burning pages of the Muslim holy text after she gathered paper as fuel for cooking.

Local media reports said the girl has Down syndrome. CNN was unable to confirm these reports, however Qasim Niazi, the police officer in charge of the police station near where the incident took place, said the girl did not have a mental disorder but was illiterate and had not attended school.

The accused girl had told him she had no idea there were pages of the Quran inside the documents she burnt, he added.

Niazi said that 150 people had gathered on Friday where the neighborhood's Christian population lived and threatened to burn down their houses.

"The mob wanted to burn the girl to give her a lesson," he told CNN.

Other Christian families living in the area have fled fearing a backlash, he added.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Islam • Islamic law • Pakistan • Quran

May 1st, 2012
01:37 AM ET

Poll: Many Muslims in Mideast, Pakistan have poor view of al Qaeda

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - Most Muslims in several key Middle Eastern and Asian countries hold negative views of the terrorist network al Qaeda a year after U.S. forces killed its leader Osama bin Laden, according to a recent survey.

The poll by the Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project, released Monday, found that a high proportion - between 71% and 98% - of Muslims questioned in Egypt, Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon viewed al Qaeda in an unfavorable way.


- CNN's Laura Koran

Filed under: Islam • Middle East • Pakistan

March 14th, 2012
12:23 PM ET

Petition: Free Pakistani Christian woman set for execution

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) -
Activists presented a petition Tuesday to the United Nations Human Rights Council calling on Pakistan to free a Christian mother of five from being put to death on the charge of blasphemy.

A Pakistani court Asia Bibi guilty of defiling the name of the Prophet Mohammed during a 2009 argument with Muslim fellow field workers. The offense is punishable by death or life imprisonment, according to Pakistan's penal code, and Bibi was sentenced to hang.

But an investigation by a Pakistani government ministry found the charges stemmed from religious and personal enmity and recommended Bibi's release.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Asia • Pakistan

My Take: Looking for faith amid persecution
An elderly Christian woman in Pakistan stands among the ruins of her home that was destroyed by mob violence.
December 22nd, 2011
08:21 AM ET

My Take: Looking for faith amid persecution

Editor's Note: Vivian Chapman is a writer and producer based in metro Atlanta. She often collaborates with her husband, photographer Gary S. Chapman. See more of Chapman's photos on CNN's Photo Blog here.

By Vivian Padilla-Chapman, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Imagine living in a country where being born into your family's faith could thwart your chances of learning to read, narrow your employment opportunities to jobs like trash collector, street sweeper, or brick maker, and restrict you to drinking from separate water fountains in your village.

In 2009 in Pakistan, I discovered that these issues as well as life-threatening circumstances are daily challenges for Pakistani Christians who live in segregated “colonies” and make up about 2% of the majority Muslim population.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Asia • Belief • Christianity • Pakistan

December 13th, 2011
08:20 AM ET

Police raid in Pakistan finds chained students at religious school

By Aliza Kassim, CNN

(CNN) - Police in Pakistan raided an Islamic religious school Monday and found 50 students chained to one another and being held in an underground room.

Video footage from the madrassa showed young men and boys - some appearing to be as young as 8 years old - with heavy chains connected to their ankles.

According to details reported by CNN affiliate GEO news, police conducted the raid at the Islamic school in SohrabGoth - a suburb of Gadap in Karachi - after sources told Gadap police officers of children kept in an underground dungeon.

Read the full story here.
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Crime • Islam • Pakistan

August 30th, 2011
09:47 AM ET

Muslim festival brings rare joy for some this year, but not all cheer

By Richard Allen Greene and Yasmeen Amer, CNN

For Christians, the wild celebrations of Mardi Gras come before the solemnity of Lent, a last chance to celebrate before the abstinence marking the 40 days to Good Friday and Easter.

Muslims do it the other way around. First comes the month of daytime fasting during Ramadan, then the eruption of joy called Eid al-Fitr, marked with gift-giving, new clothes, donations to the poor, feasting and festivities.

But as the sighting of a crescent moon officially marked the beginning of Eid on Tuesday, feelings are decidedly mixed for many Muslims.

There's joy tempered with concern on Tahrir Square in Egypt, which saw a successful revolution topple President Hosni Mubarak this year. And there's optimism in Libya, where 42 years of rule by Moammar Gadhafi seem to be coming to an end.

Read the full story
- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Egypt • Eid al-Fitr • Islam • Middle East • Pakistan • Syria • Uncategorized

Relics from Pakistan's multicultural past
August 22nd, 2011
10:36 AM ET

Museum exhibit highlights Pakistan's Buddhist roots

By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN

(CNN) - A statue resembling the goddess Athena and jewelry bearing images from Greco-Roman mythology may not be objects you'd expect to see in a museum exhibit of Buddhist art from Pakistan.

Their presence among carvings of Buddha and Indian deities is meant to serve as a reminder of Pakistan's oft-forgotten multicultural roots, which form the basis of a new exhibit, "The Buddhist Heritage of Pakistan: Art of Gandhara."

The show, which runs until October 30 at New York's Asia Society, is the first to bring works of Gandharan art to the United States since 1960. The pieces, on loan from museums in Karachi and Lahore, highlight Pakistan's history as a crossroads of cultural influences, despite present-day associations of the country as an incubator of religious extremism, museum director Melissa Chiu said.

Read the full story on the exhibit showcasing Pakistan's Buddhist art
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Art • Buddhism • Pakistan

May 2nd, 2011
08:49 AM ET

My Take: Burying bin Laden at sea an elegant solution

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

As I watched news reports of the death of Osama bin Laden late Sunday night and into the morning, I worried about one thing: What would be done with his body?

One of the perverse promises of Islamic terrorism is that it can transform ordinary people into martyrs for Allah. So I did not want to see bin Laden’s burial place turned into an Al Qaeda Mecca — a pilgrimage site for Muslim extremists and an assembly line for martyrs to come.


- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: 9/11 • Death • Islam • Opinion • Osama bin Laden • Pakistan

April 13th, 2011
03:03 PM ET

Pakistan's blasphemy vigilantes kill exonerated man

By Nick Paton Walsh, CNN

Talahore, Pakistan (CNN) - Mohamed Imran had been accused, jailed, tried and cleared: if anything, society owed him a debt as a man wrongfully accused.

But his crime was blasphemy. He was meant to have said something derogatory about the prophet Mohammed, so in Pakistan justice worked a little differently.

Two weeks after he returned to his small patch of farmland on the rustic outskirts of Islamabad, his alleged crime caught up with him.

Two gunmen burst into the shoe shop where he was sat talking to a friend. Imran tried to duck, to seek cover behind the man next to him - terrified so greatly for his own life that he perhaps forgot about those around him.

But the gunmen found their target and Pakistan's controversial blasphemy laws claimed another victim.

Read the full story here about blasphemy vigilantes in Pakistan.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Asia • Belief • Courts • Islam • Pakistan • Violence

Timeline of Florida's Quran-burning pastor
Florida pastor Terry Jones.
April 1st, 2011
01:33 PM ET

Timeline of Florida's Quran-burning pastor

On Friday, a bloody attack on a United Nations building in Mazar-e Sharif is suspected to have been carried out by a mob protesting  last month's Quran burning by Pastor Terry Jones.  The Florida pastor made headlines last year when he threatened to burn Qurans to protest Islam, on the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.  On March 20, he went through with the act, this time failing to attract widespread media attention.  However, the incident triggered outrage in Pakistan, which condemned the desecration and called for him to be charged with terrorism.  Here's a timeline of events leading up to the Quran burning:


- CNN.com Senior Producer

Filed under: Florida • Islam • Pakistan • Quran

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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.