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May 6th, 2014
10:50 AM ET

Hey Boko Haram, pick up a Quran and bring back our girls

Opinion by Arsalan Iftikhar, special to CNN 

(CNN) - Hey Boko Haram, have you read the Quran lately?

Most of the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world have, and we're utterly certain that it condemns kidnapping young girls and selling them into slavery - no matter what you say "Allah" tells you.

According to Amnesty International, several hundred schoolgirls - both Christian and Muslim - between the ages of 16 and 18 were abducted at gunpoint on April 14 from their rooms at the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Nigeria, where they had been sleeping.

The armed extremist group Boko Haram, which roughly translates to “Western Education is Sin,” claimed responsibility for these mass kidnappings and threatened to sell these young girls for as little as $12 into sex slavery or forced “marriages” to members of their group.

"I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah," a man claiming to be Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said in a video first obtained by Agence France-Presse.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Africa • Foreign policy • Human trafficking • Islam • Muslim • Nigeria • Opinion • Quran • Religious violence

When religious beliefs become evil: 4 signs
The Branch Davidians, a religious sect led by David Koresh, clashed with federal agents in 1993 in Waco, Texas.
April 28th, 2013
06:00 AM ET

When religious beliefs become evil: 4 signs

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) – An angry outburst at a mosque. The posting of a suspicious YouTube video. A friendship with a shadowy imam.

Those were just some of the signs that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, accused of masterminding the Boston Marathon bombings, had adopted a virulent strain of Islam that led to the deaths of four people and injury of more than 260.

But how else can you tell that someone’s religious beliefs have crossed the line? The answer may not be as simple you think, according to scholars who study all brands of religious extremism. The line between good and evil religion is thin, they say, and it’s easy to make self-righteous assumptions.

“When it’s something we like, we say it’s commitment to an idea; when it’s something we don’t like, we say it’s blind obedience,” said Douglas Jacobsen, a theology professor at Messiah College in Pennsylvania.

FULL POST

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Belief • Books • Catholic Church • Christianity • Courts • Culture wars • Egypt • Fundamentalism • History • Islam • Jesus • Leaders • Moses • Muslim • Quran

Suspects tied to Boston bombings
April 20th, 2013
07:39 PM ET

Muslim leaders condemn bombing suspects

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Editor

Washington (CNN) - Muslim leaders in Boston and elsewhere have distanced themselves from the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing, condemning the deadly terror attack and saying they feared reprisals against their communities.

"I don't care who or what these criminals claim to be, but I can never recognize these criminals as part of my city or my faith community," said Yusufi Vali, executive director for the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, the largest mosque in the Boston area.

"All of us Bostonians want these criminals to be brought to justice immediately. I am infuriated at the criminals of these bombings for trying to rip our city apart. We will remain united and not let them change who we are as Bostonians." FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Islam • Massachusetts • Muslim • Quran • Terrorism • Violence

October 1st, 2012
04:30 PM ET

Explainer: Pakistan's blasphemy laws

By Reza Sayah, CNN

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) – It has been more than a month since a teenage Christian girl was charged in Pakistan under the country's blasphemy laws . Her accusers say she burned pages from the Quran, Islam's holy book. Amid twists in her case, including changed statements by witnesses, she is facing life in prison.

On Monday, CNN reported that three witnesses whose testimony could absolve the 14-year-old Rimsha Masih have changed their statements, a potential setback for her. She has denied the charges.

The case has drawn the country's complex laws about blasphemy into the spotlight. Here is a primer on those laws.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Islam • Islamic law • Pakistan • Quran

Pakistani court postpones decision on teen accused of blasphemy
Rimsha Masih sits in a helicopter after her release from jail in Rawalpindi on September 8, 2012.
October 1st, 2012
04:52 AM ET

Pakistani court postpones decision on teen accused of blasphemy

From Reza Sayah and Nasir Habib, CNN

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) - A Christian girl accused of violating Pakistani blasphemy laws by allegedly burning pages containing texts from the Quran will have to wait at least another two weeks to learn her fate after a court ordered a stay of proceedings in her case Monday.

A juvenile court had been due Monday to hear the case of the girl, Rimsha Masih. But the Islamabad High Court said the hearing should wait until it has ruled on a petition by Rimsha's lawyers seeking a dismissal, one of the lawyers said.

FULL STORY
- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Islam • Pakistan • Quran

Bangladesh Muslims torch Buddhist shrines, police say
Rioters torched Buddhist temples and homes in Bangladesh over a Facebook photo deemed offensive to Islam.
October 1st, 2012
04:49 AM ET

Bangladesh Muslims torch Buddhist shrines, police say

By Farid Ahmed, CNN

(CNN) - Crowds of angry Muslims attacked Buddhist shrines and homes, torching some of them Sunday in Bangladesh to protest after a photo of a partially burned Quran was posted on Facebook, police said.

The protesters chanted anti-Buddhist slogans, blaming the burning of the Muslim holy book on a Buddhist boy, district police superintendent Saleem Jahangir said.

FULL STORY
- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Buddhism • Islam • Quran

Police: Pakistani teen innocent of blasphemy, but case continues
Rimsha Masih in a helicopter after her release from jail in Rawalpindi on September 8.
September 25th, 2012
04:27 AM ET

Police: Pakistani teen innocent of blasphemy, but case continues

By Ashley Fantz, CNN

(CNN) - A 14-year-old Pakistani girl who had faced life in prison for allegedly burning the Quran will have her case heard in juvenile court, the girl's lawyer told CNN.

A local court ordered the transfer on Monday, Tahir Naveed Choudhry said.

Pakistani police told CNN their investigation concluded Rimsha Masih is innocent and was framed by an imam.

"There was no legal evidence against Rimsha," officer Munir Jafri told CNN.

FULL STORY
- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Islam • Pakistan • Quran

September 7th, 2012
05:39 AM ET

Judge in Pakistan grants bail to Christian girl accused of blasphemy

By Reza Sayah and Nasir Habib, CNN

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) - A Pakistani judge on Friday granted bail to Rimsha, a 14-year-old Christian girl detained over accusations she burned pages of the Quran in a case that has heightened religious tensions in the volatile country.

The All Pakistan Minorities Alliance, which represents religious minorities in the country, will pay the sum of roughly $10,000 to secure Rimsha's release from jail, said Tahir Naveed Chaudhry, one of her lawyers and a leading member of the alliance.

FULL STORY
- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Christianity • Islam • Pakistan • Quran

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.

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Islam • Islamic law • Pakistan • Quran

U.S. outreach to American Muslims may not curb Afghan violence
February 27th, 2012
12:19 PM ET

U.S. outreach to American Muslims may not curb Afghan violence

By Paul Courson, CNN

Washington (CNN)– After a weekend that saw continued deadly violence in Afghanistan triggered by what the U.S. says was the inadvertent burning of Qurans, an American Muslim group says outreach here is unlikely to help over there.

On Friday, a ranking Pentagon official visited a prominent mosque in the outside Washington and apologized for last week's incident, which involved copies of the Quran and other religious tracts that had been
kept at a U.S. detention facility in Bagram.

"On behalf of Secretary Panetta, and the Department of Defense, I offer my sincere regret for the incident at Bagram Air Base," said Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense Peter Lavoy.

But an Islamic activist group Monday suggested that the U.S. is preaching to the wrong choir if officials hope they can reach those in Afghanistan who have been perpetrating the violence.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Afghanistan • Belief • Church and state • Islam • 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.

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