September 29th, 2011
06:58 AM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) - The White House Thursday condemned the conviction of an Iranian pastor, who may be executed in Tehran for refusing to recant his religious beliefs and convert from Christianity to Islam.
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani "has done nothing more than maintain his devout faith, which is a universal right for people," a White House spokesman said in a statement. "That the Iranian authorities would try to force him to renounce that faith violates the religious values they claim to defend, crosses all bounds of decency and breaches Iran's own international obligations."
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent advisory group appointed by the president and Congress to monitor religious freedom around the world, Wednesday expressed "deep concern" for Nadarkhani, the head of a network of Christian house churches in Iran.
August 2nd, 2011
07:40 AM ET
From Shirzad Bozorgmehr, CNN
Tehran, Iran (CNN) - A woman blinded in an acid attack seven years ago said Sunday she stopped the "eye for an eye" punishment for her attacker because "such revenge is not worth it."
A physician was to drop acid - under legal supervision - into the eyes of Majid Movahedi on Sunday, according to Fars News Agency, to punish him for throwing acid in Bahrami's face. The act disfigured her face and blinded her.
"I never intended to allow Majid to be blinded," Ameneh Bahrami told CNN. "... Each of us, individually, must try and treat others with respect and kindness in order to have a better society."Read the full story of the Islamic law about an eye for an eye
May 10th, 2011
08:55 AM ET
By Ivan Watson and Yesim Comert, CNN
Istanbul, Turkey (CNN) - Dignitaries, a red carpet and a child with a bouquet of flowers greeted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when he landed at Istanbul airport in Turkey on Monday. It was perhaps the warmest welcome he has received in weeks.
Ahmadinejad's trip to attend a United Nations summit of the world's poorest countries is his first overseas journey since a public spat erupted between himself and Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Top officials and media outlets close to Khamenei have mounted a campaign of criticism targeting Ahmadinejad, while several of his top aides have reportedly been arrested.
The reported arrest of presidential palace prayer leader Abbas Amirifar on charges of "sorcery" is perhaps the best sign of how serious the political feud in Tehran has gotten.
Amirifar produced a controversial film predicting the imminent return of the Shiite saint Mehdi, a messianic prediction that Ahmadinejad often refers to in his speeches.
February 11th, 2011
07:29 AM ET
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN
Washington (CNN) - It is a bad time to be a Baha'i in Iran, American adherents of the faith say.
The religion, founded in Iran in 1844, is now considered heretical by Iranian authorities. Its 300,000 adherents in the country "may face repression on the grounds of apostasy," according to the annual report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
On Wednesday, Iraj Kamalabadi and other Baha'is came to Washington to tell the commission just how bad things are for his sister, Fariba Kamalabadi, and six others who have been imprisoned because of their faith since 2008.
Iraj Kamalabadi was born in Iran and came to the United States for college. He stayed in the U.S. after the Iranian revolution for fear of religious persecution in his homeland. Now he is petitioning his adopted home government to step up the pressure on Iranian authorities.
February 2nd, 2011
09:38 AM ET
Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.
By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN
Americans are understandably both manic and depressed about recent developments in Egypt. The mania comes from 1776 and our own history of casting off a Pharaoh in the name of freedom. The depression comes compliments of 1979 and Iran, which saw populist street protests against a pro-American dictator co-opted into an Islamic Republic deeply hostile to the West.
And there are parallels between Iran back then and Egypt today. Both are large countries with sizeable, largely Islamic populations. And the leading opposition party in Egypt is the Muslim Brotherhood.
But Arab Egypt is not Persian Iran, for the following four reasons:
One: Sunnis are not Shiites.
January 5th, 2011
02:23 PM ET
Radical Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has returned to the country after more than three years in Iran, according to Iraqi state television and websites maintained by al-Sadr's followers.
The Shiite cleric has been in Iran since early 2007, apart from a public appearance in Iraq in May 2007.
He has been studying in the Iranian city of Qom to become an ayatollah, the title given to high-ranking Shiite Muslim religious scholars.
January 5th, 2011
01:19 PM ET
Editor's note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.
By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN
News of the suicide of Alireza Pahlavi, son of the former shah of Iran, took me back this morning to my first year of college and the Iranian Revolution of 1979.
A member of the shah's royal family was in my entering class, and one of my best friends was from the Iranian capital of Tehran. So I got to see the personal side of what seemed to many Americans to be a matter of faraway import—that is, until the taking of American hostages in November of that year.
December 15th, 2010
12:09 PM ET
Suicide bombings outside the Imam Hussein Mosque in Chabahar in southeastern Iran killed at least 32 people Wednesday, Iran's Fars News Agency reported, citing a provincial coroner's office.
Fariborz Ayati, the director of the Sistan-Baluchestan province's coroner's office, said 29 bodies have been identified. The three others are two men and a 13-year old girl, he said.
The violence comes as Shiite Muslims across the world are observing Ashura, a period of mourning commemorating the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the Prophet Mohammed's grandson and one of Shiite Islam's holiest figures.
December 10th, 2010
08:49 AM ET
A program on Iran's government-backed Press TV recently took a woman convicted of adultery and murder back to her home in Osku "to produce a visual account" of the death of her husband "at the crime scene."
Press TV posted a story on its website early Friday morning explaining that the program "Iran Today," which will air Friday night, would include interviews with - among others - Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who was sentenced to be stoned to death.
Press TV's release of still photographs of Ashtiani and her son from the interview, which took place on Sunday, fueled some speculation that they had been released, but there was no evidence or confirmation to support that conjecture.
September 7th, 2010
08:41 PM ET
Editor's Note: CNN Anchor and Correspondent Errol Barnett filed this post over at our sister blog Inside the Middle East.
It may surprise some to find out that the Quran says absolutely nothing about stoning. However, the case of an Iranian woman being sentenced to death by stoning for adultery has lead many to criticize the Muslim faith for its practices. But reasons for the act are much more complicated and vary among Muslim countries – like Egypt and the UAE. As it turns out, the punishment stems from generations of interpretation of Hadith; narrations concerning the Prophet Mohammad.
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.