June 18th, 2013
01:58 PM ET
Delray Beach, Fla (CNN) It was hard to miss, a nearly 20-foot piece of graffiti that simply read: "jihad."
Thousands of drivers saw the large message last weekend while traveling northbound on I-95 in Delray Beach, Florida.
For two passers-by, the graffiti led to a heated verbal altercation about the word's meaning and the threat of terrorism in the United States.
After the altercation Florida Department of Transportation arrived to paint over the word. It was gone by Saturday night.
May 22nd, 2013
05:05 PM ET
By Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
London (CNN) – A man thought to be a serving British soldier was killed by two armed men in a frenzied attack on a London street Wednesday, in what the government is treating as a suspected act of terrorism.
Witnesses told of a gruesome scene in which the man was hit by a car, then hacked with cleavers and his body dumped in the middle of the road in Woolwich, southeast London.
The two suspects in the killing were injured in a confrontation with police and have been taken to two hospitals, where they are being treated.
CNN affiliate ITN aired a video showing a man with bloody hands and holding a meat cleaver, who says, "We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you."
The man, who seems to have a London accent, carries on: "The only reasons we killed this man this is because Muslims are dying daily. This British soldier is an eye for an eye a tooth for tooth.FULL STORY
April 24th, 2013
09:32 AM ET
Editor's note: Ken Ballen, a former federal prosecutor, is president and founder of Terror Free Tomorrow, a nonprofit organization that investigates the causes of extremism. He is the author of "Terrorists in Love: True Life Stories of Islamic Radicals."
By Ken Ballen, Special to CNN
(CNN) - There are many unanswered questions about the motivations of the alleged Boston Marathon bombers, Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. But it is becoming increasingly clear that they were inspired by faith in a radical Islamist ideology. Dzhokhar has told investigators that, among other things, he and his brother wanted to defend Islam, while Tamerlan's social media accounts are replete with clips by extremist clerics.
As the investigation continues to unravel the seeming paradox of how two apparently normal young men could commit acts of violence, classmates, neighbors and relatives of those who knew them have expressed surprise and disbelief.
I have interviewed over the past seven years more than a hundred radical extremists, including numerous al Qaeda and Taliban members, and it appears the Tsarnaev brothers fit the profile of many young men who turn to radicalism.
Young men—and they are almost always between the ages of 16 and 30—who convert to the radical Islamist cause come from a variety of socioeconomic and family circumstances. Before their conversion (and even often after), to all outward appearances they resemble their peers and seem like any other young men. What changes them?FULL STORY
April 24th, 2013
09:27 AM ET
Editor's note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is a political comedian and frequent commentator on various TV networks including CNN. He is the co-director of the upcoming documentary "The Muslims Are Coming!" and co-host of a new CNN podcast "The Big Three" that looks at the top three stories of the week. Follow him on Twitter @deanofcomedy.
By Dean Obeidallah, Special to CNN
(CNN) – I'm an American-Muslim and I despise Islamic terrorists. In fact, despise is not even a strong enough word to convey my true feelings about those who kill innocent people in the name of Islam. I hate them with every fiber of my being.
I'm not going to tell you, "Islam is a religion of peace." Nor will I tell you that Islam is a religion of violence. What I will say is that Islam is a religion that, like Christianity and Judaism, is intended to bring you closer to God. And sadly we have seen people use the name of each of these Abrahamic faiths to wage and justify violence.
The unique problem for Muslims is that our faith is being increasingly defined by the actions of a tiny group of morally bankrupt terrorists. Just to be clear: The people who commit violence in the name of Islam are not Muslims, they are murderers. Their true religion is hatred and inhumanity.
The only people terrorists speak for are themselves and the others involved in their despicable plot. They do not represent me, my family or any other Muslim I know. And believe me, I know a lot of Muslims.FULL STORY
April 23rd, 2013
09:47 AM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – A majority of Muslims (57%) in Russia’s North Caucasus – including Chechnya, Dagestan and five other Russian jurisdictions – are either “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” about religious extremist groups in their country, according to a Pew Research Center survey.
That number is higher than Russia as a whole, where more than four-in-10 Muslims in the country express the same level of concern.
This region of the world, particularly Chechnya and Dagestan, has been in the news recently because the suspects in last week’s Boston Marathon bombing – Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the younger brother who is still alive, and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older brother who died in a shootout last week – had familial ties to the region.
The two brothers were born in Kyrgyzstan, where 62% of Muslims told Pew they were very or somewhat concerned about extremism in the central Asian country.
April 21st, 2013
03:30 PM ET
(CNN) – Tamerlan Tsarnaev died early Friday, and according to the rules of Islam, he should have been buried by now. But his severely wounded body is still being held to determine a cause of death.
"We are waiting for more information," said Terrel Harris, spokesman for the Boston Medical Examiner's Office. He wasn't sure when a cause of death would be released.
Tsarnaev, 26, had so many penetrating wounds when he arrived at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center early Friday that doctors could not tell which ones had killed him. He'd engaged in a ferocious battle with police in which more than 200 rounds of gunfire was exchanged. He and his brother Dzhokhar, 19, also allegedly hurled improvised explosive devices and handmade grenades at officers. FULL POST
April 21st, 2013
01:43 PM ET
By David Ariosto and Moni Basu, CNN
Boston (CNN) – On this brisk April morning in Boston's South End, worshipers filled New England's largest Roman Catholic church. It was a time to pray - and reflect on the torrent of violence this city has seen.
Last Sunday, a special blessing was said here for the runners in the Boston Marathon. Now, there were people sitting on the wooden pews who might have witnessed the tragedy. They were all scarred inside.
Almost a week has passed since bombs made from pressure cookers blew up near the finish line of the race. Three people died, and more than 170 were wounded. Many remain in hospitals.
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
April 16th, 2013
01:28 PM ET
Editor's note: Danielle Elizabeth Tumminio is an ordained Episcopal Church priest and author of "God and Harry Potter at Yale: Teaching Faith and Fantasy Fiction in an Ivy League Classroom."
By Danielle Elizabeth Tumminio, Special to CNN
Boston (CNN) — At 4 a.m. on Patriot’s Day, I huddled in the cold and dark on the Lexington town green that’s across from the church where I work as a priest, awaiting the reenactment of the first battle of the American Revolution.
As the sun rose, a small group of haggard colonists assembled. None were in military uniform; they seemed to have difficulty forming a straight line. And when the British marched towards them with their elegant uniforms and disciplined formation, they outnumbered the colonists more than 2-1.
It looked to be a slaughter.
As the “shot heard 'round the world” fired, the colonists scrambled, some dying in the skirmish and others retreating, running away to safety.
To the casual observer like myself, it looked like defeat — defeat of their hopes for freedom, liberty and democracy; defeat of goodness and light. But that defeat turned out to be the call that brought out reservists from all over the Boston area. Ordinary colonists left their homes to hide behind trees with their weapons, haunting the British as they marched back to Boston. The efforts of those ordinary men and women eventually led to victory for our country and the ideals it sought — and continues to seek—to embody.
Less than 12 hours after I attended the reenactment, I heard a different “shot heard 'round the world,” this time a few miles from my home where I was working. The Boston Marathon bombing shook me, as it shook many of my fellow Bostonians. It was a reminder that our world carries hazards and injustice. FULL POST
November 26th, 2012
01:44 AM ET
By Nasir Habib and Shaan Khan, CNN
Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) - For the second time in two days, a deadly blast shook a northwest Pakistani city as worshippers marked the sacred holiday of Ashura.
The explosion occurred near a Shiite Muslim procession in Dera Ismail Khan. The bomb was planted inside a bicycle repair shop, killing five people and injuring more than 70 others, said Mian Iftikahr Hussain, the provincial information minister.
The spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, Ihsanullah Ihsan, said the group would continue "its mission" and attack Shiite Ashura processions across Pakistan.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.