January 20th, 2011
09:24 PM ET

Afterlife inflation: Have jihadists had to raise martyrdom incentive?

By Adam Levine, CNN

The promise of 70 or 72 virgins upon martyrdom has become a familiar expression in discussions among Islamic extremists, but a recent terror indictment raises the peculiar question of whether the incentive has been increased.

The case involves a man suspected of conspiring with a terrorist network responsible for the deaths of five U.S. soldiers in Iraq. He was arrested Wednesday in Canada, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney's office for the Eastern District of New York.

Faruq Khalil Muhammad, 38, was charged with conspiring to kill Americans abroad and providing material support to a terrorist network that conducted suicide bombings in Iraq, the statement said.

The complaint quotes from wiretaps of conversations between the defendant and the potential suicide bombers he is alleged to having aided.

In one snippet of conversation from March 2009, the defendant is encouraging a reluctant "Fighter 5" who is concerned about his mother. In the course of encouraging "Fighter 5," the complaint shows an inflation in the promise of virgins after martyrdom.

"May God give you 74 to marry. We want virgins of paradise, not the ones here," said "Fighter 5," according to the criminal complaint.

"You come short, brother," the complaint quotes Muhammad as responding. "God is more generous than that. It's supposed to be 76."


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Islam

January 20th, 2011
08:10 PM ET

Jesus Hates Obama site says Super Bowl ad is rejected

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

An online store called Jesus Hates Obama says a television ad it submitted to air during next month's Super Bowl has been rejected by the Fox television network.

“Do I really believe (that) Jesus really hates Obama? No, but I do believe in freedom… as in the freedom to poke fun at the Obama administration when I don’t agree with their policies,” said Richard Belfry, who began selling Jesus Hates Obama merchandise in 2009, in a Thursday press release about the ad’s rejection.

A spokesman for Fox, which will broadcast the Super Bowl on February 6, would not say whether the network rejected the ad.


- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Barack Obama • Jesus • Politics • Sports

Banned in Britain: Pastor Terry Jones
January 20th, 2011
10:45 AM ET

Banned in Britain: Pastor Terry Jones

Britain has denied entry to the Florida pastor who said last year that he was "praying about" whether to burn Qurans to protest the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"The government opposes extremism in all its forms which is why we have excluded Pastor Terry Jones from the UK," a Home Office spokesperson said in a statement. "Numerous comments made by Pastor Jones are evidence of his unacceptable behaviour."

Jones vowed to take legal action to change the decision. "Just as a human being, I believe it is restrictive, against my right to travel, against my right to my opinion, to express my opinion, against basic principles of freedom of religion and freedom of speech," he said in a telephone interview.

Read the full story here about the UK banning Pastor Terry Jones.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Church and state • Europe • Florida • Quran • United Kingdom • United States

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.