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Mecca redevelopment sparks heritage concerns
Mecca has changed dramatically over the past decades. This is how it appears in 2012. The Grand Mosque, in the foreground, is dwarfed by the Abraj Al Bait Towers complex, including the Royal Mecca Clock Tower.
February 8th, 2013
03:48 AM ET

Mecca redevelopment sparks heritage concerns

By Tim Hume and Samya Ayish, CNN

(CNN) - An Ottoman-era portico in Mecca's Grand Mosque has become the latest battleground in a conflict between those who want to preserve the city's architectural heritage and Saudi authorities pushing for redevelopment.

The 17th century portico - one of the oldest parts of the Grand Mosque, Islam's holiest - is being removed by Mecca authorities as part of an expansion project to create more space for soaring numbers of pilgrims.

FULL STORY
- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Islam • Mosque • Saudi Arabia

Arkansas to allow concealed guns in churches
February 5th, 2013
02:00 PM ET

Arkansas to allow concealed guns in churches

By Dan Merica, CNN

(CNN) - The Arkansas House of Representatives has overwhelmingly passed a measure that would allow concealed guns to be carried in churches and houses of worship, and the governor’s office says it plans to sign the bill.

The measure, which passed 85-8 on Monday, gives houses of worship the option of allowing concealed weapons.

FULL POST

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Arkansas • Houses of worship • Violence • Virginia • Weapons

August 10th, 2012
10:56 AM ET

Tennessee mosque opens after 2 years of controversy

Editor's note: CNN's Soledad O'Brien chronicles the dramatic fight over a mosque in the heart of the Bible Belt. "Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door" airs on CNN at 8 ET/PT Sunday night.

By Moni Basu, CNN

(CNN)–Saleh Sbenaty was asked more than once Friday how he slept the night before. He didn't.

How could he when a longtime dream was about to be fulfilled?

Friday afternoon, Sbenaty and other Muslims in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, entered a brand new mosque, Tennessee, and fell in prayer to their knees.

They'd waited more than two years for the opening of their new Islamic center, delayed by legal wrangling and anti-Muslim sentiment that surfaced through protests, arson and vandalism.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Faith Now • Islam • Mosque

August 7th, 2012
10:25 AM ET

Close-knit mosque community shaken by fire

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) – Members of the Joplin, Missouri, mosque destroyed by a suspicious fire are sad and shaken, but resolute in their plans to stay in the area, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

"This is a very close-knit community," Kimberly Kester said on CNN's "Early Start." "I think we feel secure and nobody's going to move away because of this action."

A fire that broke out early Monday destroyed the worship house of the Islamic Society of Joplin, a small mosque serving about 50 families in the southwest Missouri city.

The mosque's community is no stranger to attacks, Kester said.

"We've had our mailbox destroyed. Our sign was burned. The sign has been shot with guns. People would sometimes drive by and yell at us," she said.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Faith Now • Islam • Mosque

My Faith: After my mosque was torched
The Islamic Center of Columbia, Tennessee, after it was torched in 2008.
August 7th, 2012
08:00 AM ET

My Faith: After my mosque was torched

Editor's Note: This piece was originally published in 2011. Daoud Abudiab is president of the Islamic Center of Columbia, Tennessee, where he works as an administrator for a physicians' group.

By Daoud Abudiab, Special to CNN

Last year, my son and I attended the White House conference on bullying prevention. We heard stories of people being bullied for being black, gay, lesbian and Sikh. The stories were compelling and left me more critical of our culture, in which it is popular to act in ways that dishonor our traditions.

Some of my friends were interested in the details of my Washington trip. I commented on the diversity at the White House event. A friend made a joke about the composition of attendees reflecting a typical Democratic Party gathering.

I thought of it as a typical American gathering. But I have become aware that not all Americans honor my American citizenship.

Read: Missouri mosque destroyed in fire

In some circles, my Muslim faith is not even accepted as a religion.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Faith Now • Islam • Mosque • Tennessee

August 6th, 2012
06:32 AM ET

Temple shooting dredges up memories of long history of bias crimes against Sikhs

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN)–Immediately after the September 11, 2001, terrorist acts, Sikhs came under attack.

Mistaken for Muslims for their beards and turbans, they became ripe targets for zealots seeking revenge.

The first person murdered in retaliation for the 9/11 attacks was a Sikh – a gas station owner in Mesa, Arizona, named Balbir Singh Sodhi who was shot five times by aircraft mechanic Frank Roque.

In the intervening years, the Sikh Coalition, a New York-based advocacy group, reported more than 700 attacks or bias-related incidents.

Some Sikhs had their houses vandalized; others were spat upon. In some extreme cases, Sikhs were set upon by groups of people and beaten.

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Crime • Faith Now • Houses of worship • Religious violence • Sikh

August 5th, 2012
06:20 PM ET

Explainer: Who are Sikhs and what do they believe?

By Steve Almasy, CNN

(CNN)– Sikhism, the world's fifth most popular religion, is a monotheistic faith that believes in equality and service to others, Sikh officials say.

"Everyone is the same," says Raghunandan Johar, president of the Guru Nanak Mission of Atlanta. "There is no distinction, no caste system."

Navdeep Singh, a policy adviser to the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, says Sikhs believe in freedom of religion, community service and inclusiveness.

FULL POST

- Producer/Writer

Filed under: Belief • Faith Now • Houses of worship • Religious violence • Sikh

May 30th, 2012
04:21 AM ET

Tennessee mosque's fate again up in the air

By Lateef Mungin and Moni Basu, CNN

(CNN) – The long-running battle between a Tennessee Muslim community and its critics over a new mosque took a dramatic turn with a county judge's ruling that could bring construction to a halt.

"Everyone is really shocked, many people are crying about this," Imam Osama Bahloul, leader of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, said early Wednesday.

"We did exactly what other churches in the county did," he said. "We followed the same process that other churches did. Why did this happen? Some people feel like it is discrimination."

The judge, Chancellor Robert Corlew, ruled Tuesday that plans for the new mosque that had previously been approved by a local planning commission were now "void and of no effect."

He said the planning commission violated state law by not providing proper public notice. The ruling throws the date of the mosque's completion, scheduled for July, up in the air.

Rutherford County Attorney Jim Cope said Corlew did not address the issue of whether work on the mosque has to stop right away. He said county planners will discuss options and determine an appropriate course of action.

FULL STORY

- CNN's Laura Koran

Filed under: Islam • Mosque • Tennessee

April 9th, 2012
05:07 PM ET

Celebrating Easter in a temple

(CNN)–Grace Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina had its Easter service in a local Jewish temple because of an earthquake centered in Virginia. CNN affiliate WCSC reports that the earthquake last August weakened the mortar between the bricks in the church that dates back to 1886.

The Easter service was held at Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim Synagogue two blocks from the church.

Read more from WCSC.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Episcopal • Faith Now • Houses of worship • Judaism

March 4th, 2012
09:31 AM ET

Churches aid recovery in storm-hit town

By Eric Marrapodi and Athena Jones, CNN

Henryville, Indiana (CNN)– Church members held hands as they prayed among the pews at Henryville Community Church on Sunday morning.

"One week ago, we prayed, 'God use us in some way,' " pastor Rich Cheek said as he led the congregation in prayer.

"This morning, so many of you have lost everything," Cheek said, his voice cracking with emotion. "We asked God to use us, and he did."

Outside, a forklift off-loaded pallets of dry goods and bottles of water from a tractor-trailer. The church recreation center and basement have become a clearinghouse for supplies brought in from nearby Louisville, Kentucky, and trucked in by tractor-trailers from Convoys of Hope, a relief agency from Springfield, Missouri.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Church • Faith Now • Houses of worship • Presbyterian

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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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.

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