April 28th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
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.
April 20th, 2013
07:39 PM ET
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
October 1st, 2012
04:30 PM ET
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.
October 1st, 2012
04:52 AM ET
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
October 1st, 2012
04:49 AM ET
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
September 25th, 2012
04:27 AM ET
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
September 7th, 2012
05:39 AM ET
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
August 20th, 2012
11:40 AM ET
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
February 27th, 2012
12:19 PM ET
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
"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.
February 24th, 2012
11:12 AM ET
From Masoud Popalzai and Nick Paton Walsh, CNN
Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) - Afghan rage over the burning of Qurans by NATO troops continued Thursday even after a President Barack Obama apologized for the "error."
Afghanistan erupted in violent demonstrations after the troops burned the Islamic religious material at the beginning of the week.
Two American troops were killed Thursday by a man wearing an Afghan National Army uniform, a U.S. official said, asking not to be named discussing casualties. The gunman is thought to have been acting in conjunction with a protest outside the base, the official said.
In a letter delivered to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Obama called the act "inadvertent," Karzai's office and National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said Thursday.FULL STORY
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 and frequent posts from religion scholar and author Stephen Prothero.