May 6th, 2014
10:50 AM ET

Hey Boko Haram, pick up a Quran and bring back our girls

Opinion by Arsalan Iftikhar, special to CNN 

(CNN) - Hey Boko Haram, have you read the Quran lately?

Most of the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world have, and we're utterly certain that it condemns kidnapping young girls and selling them into slavery - no matter what you say "Allah" tells you.

According to Amnesty International, several hundred schoolgirls - both Christian and Muslim - between the ages of 16 and 18 were abducted at gunpoint on April 14 from their rooms at the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Nigeria, where they had been sleeping.

The armed extremist group Boko Haram, which roughly translates to “Western Education is Sin,” claimed responsibility for these mass kidnappings and threatened to sell these young girls for as little as $12 into sex slavery or forced “marriages” to members of their group.

"I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah," a man claiming to be Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said in a video first obtained by Agence France-Presse.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Africa • Foreign policy • Human trafficking • Islam • Muslim • Nigeria • Opinion • Quran • Religious violence

October 28th, 2013
03:56 PM ET

Terrorist attacks and deaths hit record high, report shows

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog co-editor

[twitter-follow screen_name='BurkeCNN']

Washington (CNN) – As terrorism increasingly becomes a tactic of warfare, the number of attacks and fatalities soared to a record high in 2012, according to a new report obtained exclusively by CNN.

More than 8,500 terrorist attacks killed nearly 15,500 people last year as violence tore through Africa, Asia and the Middle East, according to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism.

That’s a 69% rise in attacks and an 89% jump in fatalities from 2011, said START, one of the world’s leading terrorism-trackers.

Six of the seven most deadly groups are affiliated with al Qaeda, according to START, and most of the violence was committed in Muslim-majority countries.

The previous record for attacks was set in 2011 with more than 5,000 incidents; for fatalities the previous high was 2007 with more than 12,800 deaths.


- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Afghanistan • Africa • Crime • Fatwa • Foreign policy • Iran • Iraq • Islam • Islamic law • Middle East • Muslim • Nigeria • Pakistan • Terrorism

Nigeria's Igbo Jews: 'Lost tribe' of Israel?
February 5th, 2013
05:53 AM ET

Nigeria's Igbo Jews: 'Lost tribe' of Israel?

By Chika Oduah, for CNN

Abuja, Nigeria (CNN) - A Shabbat service is underway at the Ghihon Hebrew Research synagogue in the Jikwoyi suburb of Nigeria's federal capital territory.

Fourteen year-old Kadmiel Izungu Abor heads there with his family. They walk alongside stray goats on a road covered in red dust and potholes, lined with open sewage. They are nearly 20 kilometers away from the modern multi-story office buildings and sprawling mansions in Nigeria's capital city of Abuja.

About 50 people gather in the synagogue. They pray from the Siddur, they read from the Torah and as they chant, Abor's mellow alto begins to rise.

In a country of 162 million people tensions often lead to violent uprisings between Christians and Muslims and being part of the religious minority can be an issue. But Abor wears his kippah and his identity with pride.

"I am a Jewish Igbo," he says.

- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Judaism • Nigeria

January 2nd, 2013
12:34 PM ET

Nigerian forces kill 13 Boko Haram militants after church attacks

By Ben Brumfield, CNN

(CNN) - Islamist militants in Nigeria's restive north have taken the lives of 34 people since Christmas, including 27 Christians attending church services.

On Tuesday, the country's military took the fight to Boko Haram's stronghold, killing 13 suspected combatants.

Read more: Nigeria guilty of abuses in pursuing Boko Haram militants

Joint Task Force Operation Restore Order lost one soldier during the afternoon gunfight in the isolated town of Maiduguri in Nigeria's far northwest corner, said spokesman Sagir Musa.

The task force condemned alleged Boko Haram attacks going back to July 2012 in a statement, calling them "incessant callous, brutal, barbaric and impious killings." These included attacks on mosques, churches and businesses.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Africa • Belief • Christianity • Nigeria

December 26th, 2012
01:10 AM ET

12 killed in attacks on two churches in Nigeria

By CNN Staff

(CNN) - At least 12 people died in northern Nigeria when attackers raided two churches during Christmas Eve services, police said.

One assault occurred at the Church of Christ in Nations in Postikum, in Yobe province. Gunmen attacked worshipers during prayer, killing six people, including the pastor, and setting the building on fire

Worshipers also were attacked at the First Baptist Church in Maiduguri, in Borno state. A deacon and five church members were killed.

- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Christianity • Nigeria • Pope Benedict XVI

Suicide bomber kills 7 in Nigerian church
Soldiers stand guard after a suicide attacker drove a car bomb into a church in Kaduna, Nigeria.
October 29th, 2012
05:37 AM ET

Suicide bomber kills 7 in Nigerian church

By the CNN Wire Staff

Lagos, Nigeria (CNN) - A suicide bombing killed seven people and wounded more than 100 others Sunday at a Catholic church in Nigeria, an emergency management official said.

The bomber crashed an explosives-filled jeep into the St. Rita Church in the central Nigerian town of Kaduna, killing himself and seven others at the scene, said Musa Ilallah, a regional coordinator for the national emergency management agency.

The injured were in critical condition and were taken to four hospitals in the region, Ilallah said.

- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Nigeria • Terrorism

June 11th, 2012
10:37 AM ET

8 killed in Nigerian church blast, clashes

From Hassan John, For CNN

Jos, Nigeria (CNN) - Three people died in clashes Sunday with police in Jos, Nigeria, hours after a car bomb killed five people during services at a church nearby.

Angry crowds wielding makeshift clubs fought with police after chasing away security forces from the destroyed church. A man dragged part of a charred corpse through the street.

The clashes broke out after witnesses said a suicide car bomber drove toward several churches in the area before plowing into the Christ Chosen Church of God. The attack injured at least 48 people, hospital officials said.

Bruised and bloodied parishioners emerged from the rubble after the blast, which left splintered wood beams and twisted metal where the church once stood. There appeared to be a large number of casualties, including children.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Africa • Christianity • Church • Nigeria • Violence

January 7th, 2012
06:52 PM ET

Nigerian state under curfew after violence against Christians

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - A northeastern Nigerian state was under a 24-hour curfew Saturday following three days of violence that left more than 30 Christians dead.

The curfew was placed in effect as fears rose that Christian youths could launch reprisal attacks, said Tomborokai Gajere, chaplain to the Adamawa state government.

On Friday, 11 men and one woman were killed in the city of Yola.

The militant Islamist group Boko Haram has claimed or been blamed for a recent spate of sectarian attacks.

On Thursday, it was reported that 17 people, all Christians, were killed while mourning the deaths of two others who were killed the day before. These attacks happened in the city of Mubi. Daniels said the official number of deaths was just 12, with four injuries.

Gajere said he personally pleaded with Christian youths in Numan, which is near Mubi, for calm amid reports that reprisal attacks were possible.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Africa • Nigeria

Nigerian churches call Christmas bombings 'declaration of war'
December 29th, 2011
04:06 AM ET

Nigerian churches call Christmas bombings 'declaration of war'

By Soni Irabor for CNN

Lagos, Nigeria (CNN) - Nigeria's Christians are losing faith that the government will protect them from attacks by Islamic extremists and will "respond appropriately" to future killings, the country's leading church group warned Wednesday.

In a public message to President Goodluck Jonathan, the Christian Association of Nigeria called the Christmas Day targeting of churches in several cities "a declaration of war on Christians and Nigeria as an entity." The group also criticized its Muslim counterparts for failing to condemn the Islamic militants blamed for Sunday's attacks, calling their responses "unacceptable."

"The Christian community is fast losing confidence in government's ability to protect our rights to religious liberties and life," its president, Pentecostal pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, said in the statement. "The consensus is that the Christian community nationwide would be left with no other option than to respond appropriately if there are any further attacks on our members, churches and properties."

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Africa • Christianity • Islam • Nigeria

Death toll rises from Nigeria church bombings
December 26th, 2011
11:03 AM ET

Death toll rises from Nigeria church bombings

By the CNN Wire Staff

Jos, Nigeria (CNN) - The death toll from the worst of several church bombings Christmas Day in Nigeria has reached 32, an emergency official told CNN Monday.

Another of the bombings killed at least three people, officials said.

Blasts were reported at churches in five cities Sunday. A day later, details from some areas were still not fully clear.

The extremist Boko Haram sect claimed responsibility, two government officials said.

The group has targeted Christians in the past, as well as those Muslims who the group's members consider insufficiently Islamic.

The blasts mark the second holiday season that bombs have hit Christian houses of worship in the west African nation.

Olusegun Okebiorun, controller-general of Nigeria's fire service, told CNN Boko Haram claimed responsibility in a message sent to media in Nigeria.

He vowed the government is doing all it can to ensure that such attacks don't occur again.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Africa • Belief • Christianity • Church • Nigeria • Violence

   older posts »
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.