April 25th, 2013
05:26 PM ET
By Michael Martinez and Hamdi Alkhshali , CNN
(CNN) – Both sides in Syria's civil war were in rare agreement Wednesday: The minaret at a 12th-century mosque in Aleppo has been obliterated.
Unclear, however, was who destroyed the tower at the Great Umayyad Mosque, which has witnessed the march of nine centuries. It was just last month that a United Nations official expressed concern about the two-year war possibly damaging the mosque, a World Heritage site.
An opposition group blamed the government.
"Regime forces have committed today a new crime against human and cultural heritage by targeting the minaret of the mosque and completely destroying it," the Local Coordination Committees said. The group released a photograph of the mosque without its signature minaret, apparently reduced to rubble.
The Syrian Coalition also blamed President Bashar al-Assad's regime.FULL STORY
December 26th, 2012
01:17 AM ET
By Joe Sterling, Salma Abdelaziz and Holly Yan, CNN
(CNN) - Pope Benedict XVI urged warring parties in Syria on Tuesday to end the 21-month-old civil war.
"May peace spring up for the people of Syria, deeply wounded and divided by a conflict which does not spare even the defenseless and reaps innocent victims," the pope said in his traditional Christmas message, delivered from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica.
"Once again, I appeal for an end to the bloodshed, easier access for the relief of refugees and the displaced, and dialogue in the pursuit of a political solution to the conflict."FULL STORY
October 26th, 2012
10:02 AM ET
By Salma Abdelaziz, CNN
"There is no Eid here. What are you even talking about? How can you have Eid amid shelling? May God watch over us. We have rockets falling over us. The situation is horrific. Eid has no meaning for us," Abu Fouz, a 48-year-old resident of Aleppo, told CNN.
Eid al-Adha, literally meaning The Feast of Sacrifice, is one of two major holidays in Islam. It commemorates millions completing the holy pilgrimage called the Hajj to Saudi Arabia. It marks the Prophet Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son for God. FULL POST
December 26th, 2011
12:23 AM ET
By the CNN Wire Staff
Vatican City (CNN) - Pope Benedict XVI prayed for peace in Syria, reconciliation in Myanmar, and comfort in flood-stricken Thailand and the Philippines in his annual Christmas message "To the City and the World" on Sunday.
Addressing a packed St. Peter's Square on a glorious sunny day, the pope pleaded with God to "bring an end to the violence in Syria, where so much blood has already been shed."
More than 5,000 people have died in Syria since President Bashar al-Assad began a brutal crackdown in mid-March on anti-government protesters calling for his ouster, the United Nations said earlier this month.
In his Christmas morning speech, Benedict also urged the international community to help those suffering hunger and insecurity in the Horn of Africa, a reference to famine and violence in Somalia and Kenya.FULL STORY
August 30th, 2011
09:47 AM ET
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
June 17th, 2011
10:16 AM ET
By Mairi Mackay, CNN
(CNN) – Ever since he was a boy, Friday has been a day of prayer and rest for Murad Alazzany.
Following a rhythm as old as Islam itself, Fridays meant lunchtime prayers at the mosque and relaxing with friends and family for the rest of the day.
But that was before protests and revolutions across the Middle East smashed decades-old regimes and caused unprecedented civil unrest.
Yemen's uprising started in January this year, spurred on by the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions, and since then, Fridays have had a very different flavor for Alazzany and tens of thousands of Yemenis like him.
Alazzany, who is an assistant professor at Sanaa University, still goes to Friday prayers, known as Jumu'ah, but not in a mosque. Instead, he prays in the street alongside fellow activists and anti-government demonstrators.Read the full story on how Friday prayers are feeding the Middle East protests
March 23rd, 2011
01:26 PM ET
The head of Syria's Daraa governate was removed from his position Wednesday as violence flared in the city of Daraa, Syrian state television reported.
Earlier Wednesday, Syrian security forces opened fire into a crowd of demonstrators in front of a mosque in Daraa, witnesses said.
Reports from human rights and advocacy groups said up to six people were killed and a number of others wounded in the incident.
An eyewitness who did not want his named used out of concern for his safety said security forces shot into the crowd in front of the Al Omari mosque before daybreak. He also said he heard an explosion.Read the full story
October 8th, 2010
11:37 AM ET
CNN’s Paul Colsey filed this report from Jerusalem:
Israel has granted permission for 300 Druze clerics to travel to Syria, an Israel Interior Ministry official told CNN Thursday, marking the first time the Jewish state has allowed so many Druze to visit Syria for a religious pilgrimage and to visit relatives.
Said Mudani, representative for minorities at Israel's Interior Ministry, said the move came in a response to a request by Druze spiritual leader Wafaq Tarif.
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.