Poll: Many Americans uncomfortable with Muslims
A new survey finds many Americans are uncomfortable with Muslims.
September 6th, 2011
03:29 PM ET

Poll: Many Americans uncomfortable with Muslims

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Washington (CNN) - Ten years after 9/11, Americans are wrestling with their opinions of Muslims, a new survey found, and where Americans get their TV news is playing a role in those opinions.

Nearly half of Americans would be uncomfortable with a woman wearing a burqa, a mosque being built in their neighborhood or Muslim men praying at an airport.   Forty-one percent would be uncomfortable if a teacher at the elementary school in their community were Muslim.

Forty-seven percent of survey respondents said the values of Islam are at odds with American values.

The Public Religion Research Institute conducted the survey and issued a report in conjunction with the Brookings Institution, "What it Means to be American: Attitudes in an Increasingly Diverse America 10 Years after 9/11."

“Americans are wrestling with fear, but on the other hand they're also wrestling with acceptance,” said Robert P. Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute.

The results of the survey were announced Tuesday at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

One issue that seemed to divide respondents was sharia law.

Overall, 61% of respondents disagreed that Muslims want to establish sharia law in the U.S.

"2011 has been an enormously active year for this question," Jones said. "Forty-nine bills have been introduced in 29 states to ban sharia law. We asked the same question back in February, and only 23% of Americans agreed Muslims want to establish sharia as the law of the land. That number has gone up to 30%, so still a minority, but the minority has grown."

The numbers were also showed a correlation with where people went for their news.

Of Americans who say they trust Fox News the most for their television news, 52% believe that Muslims are trying to establish sharia law in the United States. Sixty-eight percent of Fox viewers believed the values of Islam were at odds with American values.

The report says fewer than one-third of Americans who most trust broadcast news, CNN (20%) and public television (23%) believe that Muslims are trying to establish sharia.

"It's an emotional roller coaster," said Dr. Muqtedar Khan, a professor of political science at the University of Delaware.  "I looked at this survey, and I'm really depressed."

Khan, a practicing Muslim, was particularly disturbed by the attitudes toward Muslims and what he called a misunderstanding of sharia law. "Sharia is just a prop, an attempt to say, 'we just don't know and like Muslims.' "

The survey also found strong support of religious liberty and tolerance.

Eighty-eight percent of those contacted by pollsters agreed that "America was founded on the idea of religious freedom for everyone, including religious groups that are unpopular."

One year after a Florida pastor burned a copy of the Quran, 95% of people polled said religious books should be treated with respect.

And two-thirds of those polled said there should be strict separation between church and state.

According to Jones, 2,450 Americans were reached by phone for the survey, and it had a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 9/11 • Belief • Islam • Sharia • United States

soundoff (1,019 Responses)

    "Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth."
    -CAIR founder Omar Ahmad

    September 7, 2011 at 3:59 am |
  2. Just Saying

    "I have built my organization upon fear" – AL CAPONE, American gangster, crime boss & terrorist.

    "I have been made victorious with terror!" – PROPHET MUHAMMAD, Arab gangster, crime boss & terrorist.

    September 7, 2011 at 3:37 am |
    • Abc

      my 3 year old son can make more mature comments.

      September 7, 2011 at 7:22 am |
  3. Curt

    Government systems are created by idiots that's why the world SUCKS.

    September 7, 2011 at 3:29 am |
    • Curt

      Yet they still have the nerve to go online and post retarded comments under anonymous names because they're paycheck make's them feel so smart.

      September 7, 2011 at 3:33 am |
    • revolation84

      I did, you lazy Harvard drop out!!!

      September 7, 2011 at 5:26 am |
  4. Get Educated.

    The rantings of an unemployed high school drop out, no doubt about it.

    September 7, 2011 at 3:16 am |
    • Kamarasune

      Maybe its because we have educated ourselves and will not stand for them to protest in our streets like they did in London in 2006 yelling for Jihad and that they will take our women for war booty because we won't let them have sharia law, or maybe because we won't let them over run our schools with demands to serve only halal foods like they did in Canada. Maybe because we are seeing a double standard where universities are putting in Mu slime foot washing stations and room dividers so that they can practice their faith while forbidding all other faiths the same consideration. Maybe its because we think its hypocritical that the U.N. has sanctioned the "only hate speech" as being that directed at the Is lamic faith while ignoring all others. Then again it could be because we support Israel whom many Is lamics have said they will remove from the middle east. Perhaps its because true Christians can not except that alla and the Christian god are one in the same because allah was the pagan moon god of Mohammed's Quresh tribe represented by various idols, including a sacred stone3. The God of the Bible forbids idolatry. Or it might be because we are letting people know Islam has come to mean 'submission'1. The goal of Islam is to bring the whole world into submission to allah. The Quran (Sura's 2, 4, 5, 9 and 47) teaches that all 'infidels' (non-Muslims) must either convert to Islam or be killed or enslaved2. The God of the Bible tells us that conversion is the work of God, therefore no-one can be forced to convert to Christianity.
      The Quran says God has no son and is not a father. It rejects the Trinitarian God of the Bible. Muhammad taught that Jesus and Christians were not to be taken as friends (Sura's 5 and 9).

      Just a guess....

      September 7, 2011 at 4:00 am |
  5. Kamarasune

    Too many Americans have gone and read the Quran and Hadith now...that genie is never going back into the bottle and the more Americans learn the truth and see what has happened in Europe the more intense this will all become.

    September 7, 2011 at 3:15 am |
  6. Curt

    The world has bigger problems to deal with then religion that is the bottom line.....................
    Problems like technology replacing jobs and the wold still feels you have to earn your money to survive.......... Now I agree you have to contribute... But it is brutally unfair how the hierarchy of CORPORATIONS is.... It is almost like the movie THX 1138, where technology rules over humans, and humans are expendable. The machines, are not. That is what I think of you CORPORATE AMERICA, eat a c@ck.

    September 7, 2011 at 3:08 am |
    • Curt

      Also I think education is the biggest scam government's have going.. Because the fail more people then they pass intentionally.

      September 7, 2011 at 3:09 am |
    • Curt

      When I was in college the teachers wen't on strike... Shows how much they care about students....

      September 7, 2011 at 3:09 am |
    • Curt

      I think the older generations are the worst (not everybody)....

      But they are afraid of change.. So they keep marijuana illegal, they wan't there pensions and there oil, and to cut down the tree's for there paper.......... Yet there kids will not have such luxuries... Yet the old people think they are wise.

      September 7, 2011 at 3:12 am |
    • Get Educated.

      The rantings of an unemployed high school drop out, no doubt about it.

      How many hours a day do you spend on the internet? Yeah, that's what I thought.

      September 7, 2011 at 3:19 am |
    • Maybe


      Yes, I guess education did fail you... "there" pensions? "there oil"? "there" paper?

      Hint: It's "their". At least you had the sense not to get fancy and try, "they're" when you said, "they are"

      September 7, 2011 at 3:21 am |
    • Curt

      Actually graduated high school in the academic level and wen't to college twice so far.. The first time I was screwed over by the system though.

      September 7, 2011 at 3:27 am |
    • Curt

      My english teacher was gay.. I think people that are picky about english are gay.

      September 7, 2011 at 3:28 am |
    • Maybe

      Fine, Curt... just don't be surprised if your writings lose credibility and impact, then.

      September 7, 2011 at 4:14 am |
  7. wakeup333

    Know how Obama loves to point at Indonesia as an example of "peaceful, democratic, pluralistic" Islam?

    Here's an Indonesian imam telling followers to kill Ahmadis (a minority Muslim sect):


    And last February, they did:


    Worse, Indonesian cops stood around and watched. Since Ahmadis aren't considered "true" Muslims, they're considered "infidels," and the Quran repeatedly says Muslims should kill infidels. Which is why cops (and the Indonesian government) let this happen.

    September 7, 2011 at 3:05 am |
  8. Bob

    Ok, lets see.... every time there is a Muslim involved in some alleged crime, they are terrorist suspects by the Corporate Owned and funded Main Stream Media(such as the LA&NY Times, CNN et al) however, when people of Anglo-Saxon or other races are accused of alleged crimes, they are coined "conspirators" or "lone wolves(this being the current fashionable term at the moment)" Geez... I wonder why Wally? Well Beave it goes something like this:




    Any Questions?

    Beave, don't be a sheep and think everything the government/corporate sponsored media tells you. I know it's hard to believe but, even Hitler lied to his citizens....imagine that!

    September 7, 2011 at 2:51 am |
    • Just Saying.

      It never fails, When ever Muslims are presented with the dismal truth of their cult, they suddenly launch into attack the Jews mode. Sad that they believe people are still swayed by Islam's lies an propaganda.

      September 7, 2011 at 3:12 am |
  9. thies

    I feel uncomfortable around any kind of religious zealot.

    September 7, 2011 at 2:35 am |
    • Just Saying.

      Which religion do you think about when you board a plane to travel?

      Yes, even traveling Muslims think that too.

      September 7, 2011 at 2:45 am |
    • mary

      to Thies: Amen to that!
      to JustSaying: I traveled once a long time ago on Pakistani Airlines (PIA, or Please inform Allah). The food was really good, even if the interior was falling apart. It did not bother me at all that the flight started with a prayer. It did give me pause, however, that the prayer came BEFORE the safety instructions.

      September 7, 2011 at 3:09 am |
  10. wakeup333

    CNN thinks people who are uncomfortable with Islam are "brainwashed" by FOX. More than CNN, FOX shows newsreels of Muslim imams preaching murder of "infidels," fathers who kill daughters who "dishonor" Islam by dressing Western, imams speaking at US universities about establishing a caliphate, which would put the US under Islamic rule. While CNN has Anderson Cooper giggling about who's on the "Ridic-u-list." Which channel tells the truth about Islam? Not CNN.

    But it's not just FOX that has shaped American opinion on Islam. Hello! Ignoring the media, Americans use the internet to read USC's translation of the Quran and Hadith. Unlike CNN anchors, people who've read the Quran and Hadith know Islam tells Muslims to wage war on nonbelievers. Repeatedly, the Quran says Jews and Christians are inferior and urges Muslims not to trust them or take them as friends. Worse, there are verses urging Muslims to kill non-Muslims. Despite so-called "peaceful" Muslims, the violence is in the Quran and Hadith. Which means, in every Muslim community, some will become "time bombs" waiting to go off.

    Islam IS against everything America stands for: secular government (doesn't exist in Islam), separation of church and state (doesn't exist in Islam), equal rights for women (honor killings are condoned in Islam), freedom of speech (criticism of Islam or Muhammad is punishable by death in Islamic countries). The burqa is an INSULT to the centuries of struggle for equal rights for women. It's medieval and should be banned.

    September 7, 2011 at 2:31 am |
    • mary

      Americans enjoy religious freedom and the freedom to be really stupid. Whatever American Muslim who wants to impose their traditional law on others to spite the law of the land is in the same boat as crazy militants and white supremacists. I sat next to a relatively devout Muslim on plane ride to Germany. Nice young man. He took the time to say one of his 5 daily prayers. We had long talk about religion and tradition, and he tried to convert me, but he was just as American as I.

      September 7, 2011 at 3:29 am |
    • Tom

      Yeah I was lied to by a group of Muslims over their religion too, was a great story with a lot of stench

      September 7, 2011 at 3:44 am |
  11. Tom

    and while we are on the subject, how about the second quote, is that taken out of "context"

    September 7, 2011 at 2:28 am |
    • SeekTheTRUTH

      again, the reason I did not touch the second qoute was because honestly I dont know the context and dont have much information. I will definitely do research and will GOD willingly clear any misconceptions. I am only a student of knowledge and I only correct people if they are wrong.
      Regarding the second quote I can answer you after doing a research and you can message me on my email:

      September 7, 2011 at 2:44 am |
    • SeekTheTRUTH

      Sorry for posting in the wrong area.
      thank you Mohammed:
      @ Tom Maybe actually reading the entire chapter your posting from would help. If you dont know what persecution is, then God help you so to actually put it in CONTEXT

      33:58 Those who persecute the believing men and the believing women, who did not do anything wrong, have committed not only a falsehood, but also a gross sin.

      33:60 Unless the hypocrites, and those with disease in their hearts, and the vicious liars of the city refrain (from persecuting you), we will surely grant you the upper hand, then they will be forced to leave within a short while.

      33:61 They have incurred condemnation wherever they go; (unless they stop attacking you,) they may be taken and killed.

      Now, you may ask where does the (unless they stop attacking you part come in). That my friend comes in from verses @seekthetruth posted: "Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; " ""but if they cease, Let there be no hostility except to those who practise oppression."",

      September 7, 2011 at 2:51 am |
    • SeekTheTRUTH

      @tom by the way, where in the world did you get the quote for 33:60??

      This part you Quoted:

      "Then they will not be able to stay as your neighbors for any length of time. They shall have a curse on them. Whenever they are found, they shall be seized and slain without mercy – a fierce slaughter – murdered, a horrible murdering."

      Does not exist in the Arabic Quran, like not even close. Look at the verses I quoted above, thats all the verses say in arabic. There is no fierce killing without mercy or what not. it simply says they have incurred a curse wherever they go and they will be killed. THats ALL. dont know where your getting your quotes.

      September 7, 2011 at 2:53 am |
    • Mohammed

      If you are referring to 33:60 Look at your earlier post, I already addressed it.

      1- look at 33:58

      Those who persecute the believing men and the believing women, who did not do anything wrong, have committed not only a falsehood, but also a gross sin.

      It lays down the ground work, Oppressing someone for no reason what so ever, people who did nothing wrong.

      2- your quote has things in it that simply do not exist in the original arabic. this is what it should say, minus all the added stuff (murdering a horrific murdering or something like that)

      Unless the hypocrites, and those with disease in their hearts, and the vicious liars of the city refrain (from persecuting you), we will surely grant you the upper hand, then they will be forced to leave within a short while.

      They have incurred condemnation wherever they go; (unless they stop attacking you,) they may be taken and killed.

      The unless they stop attacking you part, is in reference to the verses that already exist in the Quran that dictate when a Muslim is allowed to fight. If his attacker stops attacking, then he must stop fighting. Theres no way around that, and no one can dispute that because its in black and white in the quran.

      Putting all those verses in, I dont see what the problem is with verse 33:60. What is wrong with attacking someone who is persecuting you???? If that was wrong, this country wouldnt exist, Nazi Germany would have taken over the world, India would still be under British rule, and African Americans would still have no rights. Now tell me, whats wrong with fighting someone who is persecuting you??

      September 7, 2011 at 2:56 am |
    • Mohammed

      @seekthetruth You are welcome. I just dont understand why it has to be this hard sometimes lool. I mean I am reading the same book, how am I reading all the verses, and some people just seem to pick and choose lol. smh. it takes just as much effort to do nothing, as it does to read something. its true

      September 7, 2011 at 3:01 am |
    • Tom

      There is nothing wrong with fighting with words, I have a BIG problem with killing them for any reason, if you don't then please get away from me and those who I love.

      September 7, 2011 at 3:27 am |
    • revolation84


      @mohaemeed ^ So maybe you can tell those peoples that running the site.

      Islam is very clever when they are in the corner and they twisted their own prophets word! just camouflage it on Christian world.

      Beware my brothers, we are not stupid to get deviated.

      September 7, 2011 at 5:12 am |
  12. R, WA

    I was always proud to be American, until Fox News redefined American as ignorant, scared, and hateful. In my opinion, it's the people making us define ourselves by what we're scared of who are the problem.

    Religion is irrelevant. If a person crashes a plane, murders people, commits some other crime, or plans to, it's on us to prosecute them as a criminal or fight them as an enemy. Attacking or harassing people who happen to share a belief system is pointless, costly and self defeating.

    September 7, 2011 at 2:26 am |
    • Get Educated

      Grow up! CNN and FOX are no different from each other when it comes to stupid journalism or good journalism, they both are equally capable of it.

      September 7, 2011 at 2:32 am |
    • Tom

      I don't see news casters like Glenn Beck on CNN... well his show is gone now but to have him on in the first place was lunacy

      September 7, 2011 at 3:21 am |
  13. Just Saying.

    Just so people know the truth, Islam did not invent algebra, nor any other math for that matter. Islam acquired all their math and science information when they raided the ancient libraries of India.

    However, Islamists are experts and spreading lies and propaganda.

    September 7, 2011 at 2:26 am |
    • RobynH

      The first known work on algebra was Al-Kitab al-Jabr wa-l-Muqabala published around 820 CE by Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Ḵwārizmī, who liived in what is now modern day Iran. There were earlier references to algebraic symbology from what are now modern day India, China and Iraq. But the first exposition on conceptualizing and generalizing equations came from what is clearly an Islamic culture.

      September 7, 2011 at 2:44 am |
    • Just Saying.

      First of all Robyn, Mūsā al-Ḵwārizmī, was not a Muslim. And yes, the Arab and Persian cultures were once advanced, beautiful, and thriving...until they let Islam creep in.

      September 7, 2011 at 2:56 am |
    • Ed

      And Diophantus of Alexandria was doing exactly what when he gave solutions to Diophantine Equations? In what language would the Pythagorean Theorem be stated if not Algebra? Somehow I just don't think Muslims invented "Algebra".

      September 7, 2011 at 3:16 am |
    • mary

      Easy, there. Even if all the "culture" of the ancient Arabs was borrowed from others, the general conclusion that you draw is unfair. How their governments hold their power is another question, but their tactics are not unique to them.

      September 7, 2011 at 3:38 am |
  14. Faqi

    Islam, like fascism, appeals to people with low self esteem and low intelligence. Both these ideologies are irrational. They disdain reason, and hail devotion and submission to a higher authority. Like fascists, Muslims are triumphalists. They seek power, domination and control. They pride themselves in their strength of number, in their mindless heroism, in their disdain for life and in their willingness to kill and die for their cause. Islam is political and political Islam is fascism

    September 7, 2011 at 2:25 am |
  15. Mark Breger

    I lived in Istanbul among Muslims and I found the people to be kind, generous, intelligent and open minded. This is because they were MODERATE Muslims. Fundamentalists and fanatics of ANY religion are intolerant, ignorant and hateful. Don't let the worst of any religion define the whole.

    September 7, 2011 at 2:25 am |
    • Just Saying.

      Did you ever consider that people are kind, polite and nice because they learned such values from their parents and family?

      You sterotype as much as the next person.

      September 7, 2011 at 2:49 am |
    • Tom

      I would be nice to an outsider too...

      September 7, 2011 at 3:19 am |
    • revolation84

      @Mark, please listen,

      In Indonesia, the Muslim good habit such as kind manner and so on are not because their Islam value but because previous culture (Java – Buddhism – Hinduism) that taught them to love kind respect others.

      This is so-called Javanization of Islam and not Islamization of Java peoples (Indonesian). Islam lose in Indonesia, that's why the radical sect- hizbut Tahrir and Wahabian comes from mid east and Pakistani to teach Java peoples (Indonesian) to have the real Islam such like in Mid East.

      This probably happens on Turkey, Their previous value from Christian are degrading the Islam value culture. In Turks, Islam mus had been considered as colonial because they slaughter most of Turks peoples.

      So the real fact in Turkey was Islam get Turkey-zation by previous Christian values and not Turks get Islami-zation.

      get it?

      September 7, 2011 at 4:51 am |
  16. tonyl

    The perception of hatred and fear is spread and propagated by a few right wing fanatics on the talk radio, foxnews, tea party christians, and drudge. Most Muslims living in US are law abiding citizens and professionals. They want the same things in life as any other American. They want to rise their children raised in freedom and prosperity just as all of us do. There are a very few extremists but that is due to wide open immigration policies before 9/11. The more we criticize them and hate them, then the more they become isolated.

    September 7, 2011 at 2:19 am |
  17. Ronnie Harper

    I'm 100% against all religion – burkas, 'bibles', and buddhas are all bullsht – it can all swirl in the toilet for all I care. Just tax the religious and make their properties and holdings subject to withholdings. Come on, America, tax these fcktards and let's get out of the stone age. For christ's sake.

    September 7, 2011 at 2:15 am |
    • Get Educated

      Obviously we need to use our taxes to start a program that will help keep kids in school.

      September 7, 2011 at 2:29 am |
    • heliocracy

      Yes, because if you don't believe in an invisible magic being who lives in the sky, created everything, and really, really cares that you think your neighbor's wife is hot, you must need more education.

      September 7, 2011 at 2:44 am |
  18. Damnyank

    47% eh.......?????

    That's really not a bad number..... Considering your talking about a nation that almost wiped out the native population, supported slavery, denied women the right to vote, denied the black people civil rights, displayed anti semetism up untill ww2, hates the mexicans, are afraid of the chinese and russians,

    Only 46 percent.....i think we're making progress

    September 7, 2011 at 2:12 am |
  19. Curt

    Purpose of my life is to get the hell off this planet when I die.

    September 7, 2011 at 2:04 am |
    • Curt

      and smoke a ton of weed until then.

      September 7, 2011 at 2:05 am |
    • Curt

      actually more like 9999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999~ tons

      September 7, 2011 at 2:06 am |
    • Curt

      I think this plane is absolutely screwed, because humans are idiots.. I am not an idiot. But Humans are idiots.

      September 7, 2011 at 2:07 am |
    • SeekTheTRUTH

      Did you forget the time when you were dead(did not exist in this world) then you were given life;
      now you are enjoying life and you will die, and you believe all that,
      but you cant believe that you will be given life again after you die on the Day of Judgement.

      September 7, 2011 at 2:09 am |
    • Curt

      Earth is under the control of guns and politics.... I didn't sign up for this life.

      September 7, 2011 at 3:01 am |
  20. Sid E Slicker

    Me every time I see a Burqa I say to myself “Mad Bomber” And yes I do believe the Mus*@)* want sharia law I expect they will demand it because freedom of religion. They need it to physically beat non believers and one the “stray” into believing again. It’s a barbaric cult that believes killing brings you closer to God and wins your favors from him. If Mus*@)* say it’s not true them why do they not stand up and fight back, take their cult back from the ones that kill and claim it’s all for God. All I see from them is quiet acceptance because they know in their book it is the teaching. Oh in this country the only ones that wear masks are bandits and kid for Halloween so if the women in Burqas feel that it keep men’s eyes from lusting after them and being modest, what it does is bring distrust, contempt, and some pity.

    September 7, 2011 at 2:03 am |
    • SeekTheTRUTH

      Two women are about to pass by an alley where a pervert is waiting for a feast.
      One woman wearing a burqa, and another woman in short skirt and tight T-shirt passes by.
      Who will the pervert attack

      September 7, 2011 at 2:19 am |
    • SeekTheTRUTH

      thank you Mohammed:
      @ Tom Maybe actually reading the entire chapter your posting from would help. If you dont know what persecution is, then God help you so to actually put it in CONTEXT

      33:58 Those who persecute the believing men and the believing women, who did not do anything wrong, have committed not only a falsehood, but also a gross sin.

      33:60 Unless the hypocrites, and those with disease in their hearts, and the vicious liars of the city refrain (from persecuting you), we will surely grant you the upper hand, then they will be forced to leave within a short while.

      33:61 They have incurred condemnation wherever they go; (unless they stop attacking you,) they may be taken and killed.

      Now, you may ask where does the (unless they stop attacking you part come in). That my friend comes in from verses @seekthetruth posted: "Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; " ""but if they cease, Let there be no hostility except to those who practise oppression."",

      September 7, 2011 at 2:48 am |
    • Maybe

      The short skirt girl has a better chance of running away.

      The burqa girl will trip all over that flappity thing... and the perv can just grab a trailing edge of cloth.

      September 7, 2011 at 2:51 am |
    • Bencanard

      The woman in the burqa, of course. He's already seen most of what he wants of the other woman. People, perverts included, want what is considered impossible to have, and the pervert in your particular hypothetical situation will never have the chance to be with a burqa wearer. We're in America, tight T-shirts and short skirts are ordinary.

      September 7, 2011 at 2:52 am |
    • SeekTheTRUTH

      They pervert will be scared to touch the burqa women because she might have explosives under her burqa.

      September 7, 2011 at 3:04 am |
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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.