October 3rd, 2013
04:06 PM ET

Pope calls Italian shipwreck a 'disgrace'

Rome (CNN)–A boat carrying as many as 500 people capsized and caught fire off the Italian island of Lampedusa, the nation's coast guard told CNN on Thursday.

The official death toll stands at 93 but that did not include an estimated 20 newly discovered bodies that remain in the water, the coast guard said.

At least 151 people had been rescued in the ongoing operation, the coast guard said.

Lampedusa, not far from Sicily and the closest Italian island to Africa, has become a destination for tens of thousands of refugees seeking to enter European Union countries. Deadly shipwrecks en route are common.

The latest boat to sink is thought to have been carrying up to 500 people. Those aboard include Eritreans, Somalis and Ghanaians, the coast guard said, and the boat is believed to have launched from Libya's coast.

Editor's Note: CNN Belief Blog Co-editor Eric Marrapodi was in Lampedusa last week, reporting on Muslim migration into the European Union.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Africa • Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Egypt • Islam • Libya • Pope Francis • Tunisia

Gadhafi used ‘renegade’ Islamic view for ‘purely political purposes’
Scholars say Gadhafi practiced his own brand of Islam, one that helped keep him in power.
October 21st, 2011
10:41 AM ET

Gadhafi used ‘renegade’ Islamic view for ‘purely political purposes’

By Dan Merica and Alex Zuckerman, CNN

Washington (CNN)– Moammar Gadhafi may have held onto power in Libya for more than 40 years, but the role Islam played in Gadhafi's personal life and leadership remains shrouded in mystery and debated by scholars. After his death, scholars are distancing Gadhafi from Islam and characterizing his religious views as “renegade” and “dictatorial” more than Islamic.

“It should also be made quite clear that Gadhafi was no more of a Muslim leader than Slobodan Milosevic or Robert Mugabe should be considered to be Christian leaders,” said Arsalan Iftikhar, an international human rights lawyer and author of "Islamic Pacifism: Global Muslims in the Post-Osama Era."

“My sense is Gadhafi’s religion was Gadhafisim,” said Kelly Pemberton, assistant professor of religion and women’s studies at George Washington University. “It was clear to many Libyans that his brand of Islam was purely political; it served his political purposes.”


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Africa • Belief • Islam • Libya

October 4th, 2011
01:22 PM ET

Libyan Jew returns from exile to restore synagogue

By Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, CNN

(CNN) - Libyan Jew David Gerbi on Sunday hammered down the brick wall blocking the entrance to the rundown Dar Bishi Synagogue in Tripoli on what he called a “historic day.”

Flanked by journalists and curious residents from the neighborhood, Gerbi, dressed in an “I love Libya” T-shirt, collapsed as he yelled, “This is for all those who suffered under Gadhafi."

With a U.S. security contractor accompanying him, Gerbi continued to strike the wall until it was destroyed.

Read the full story at CNN's news blog, This Just In
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Houses of worship • Judaism • Libya

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.