Thousands protest in Shiite provinces in southern Iraq
Iraqi protestors gather in support of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in the city of Karbala, southwest of Baghdad, on January 8, 2013.
January 9th, 2013
05:34 AM ET

Thousands protest in Shiite provinces in southern Iraq

By Mohammed Tawfeeq, CNN

(CNN) - Thousands of government supporters demonstrated in at least five Shiite provinces in southern Iraq on Tuesday, opposing protests by thousands of people in mainly Sunni provinces that have gone on for more than two weeks.

The demonstrations highlight the country's sectarian tensions.

- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Iraq • Islam • Protest

My Take: It takes a nation to make a massacre
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, left, is accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians.
March 19th, 2012
10:31 AM ET

My Take: It takes a nation to make a massacre

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

We now know the name of the man accused of leaving his combat unit in Afghanistan's Kandahar Province on March 11, walking into two Afghan villages and murdering 16 innocent people, including 9 children.

The narratives we are supposed to follow here are clear, and each absolves the rest of us of any sin. Staff Sgt. Robert Bales was mentally unstable and went off the deep end. Or perhaps he was a cold-blooded killer all along. Either way, he deserves to be separated from the rest of us by life in prison, or worse.

But why is this 38-year-old husband and father of two sitting today in solitary confinement at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas?

I do not know. I suspect, however, that the answer is more complicated than the simple stories we tell ourselves in these circumstances.


- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Afghanistan • Crime • Death • Iraq • Iraq • Middle East • Military • Sin • Uncategorized

Church bombing wounds at least 20
Iraqis sit outside the Holy Family church in the north of Kirkuk after a car bomb exploded wounding at least 20 people.
August 2nd, 2011
08:02 AM ET

Church bombing wounds at least 20

By Mohammed Tawfeeq, CNN

Baghdad (CNN) - A car bomb exploded outside a Catholic church in central Kirkuk early Tuesday, wounding at least 20 people, authorities said.

The attack took place in Kirkuk's Shatterlo neighborhood around 5:30 a.m., according to a police official who spoke to CNN on condition anonymity, because he's not authorized to speak to the media.

The wounded included staff from the Holy Family Church and people with homes nearby.

Police said at least 20 people were injured in the attack, while the Interior Ministry put the number at 23.

The explosion damaged the church and a number of nearby houses, police said. Kirkuk is an ethnically divided mixed city located about 240 kilometers (150 miles) north of Baghdad.

Read the full story here
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Church • Iraq

January 5th, 2011
03:14 PM ET

Opinion: Resist terror with more houses of worship

Editor's note: Arsalan Iftikhar is an international human rights lawyer, founder of TheMuslimGuy.com and legal fellow for the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding in Washington.

By Arsalan Iftikhar, Special to CNN

With the recent deadly attacks on Christian churches, the maniacal terrorists of al Qaeda seem to be aiming at unraveling the neighborliness among Muslims, Jews and Christians throughout the Middle East that has existed for centuries.

In Baghdad, 58 people died in a bomb attack on a church; in Alexandria, Egypt, 21 people were killed and about 80 injured in another bombing.

Of course, al Qaeda has not limited its attacks to Christianity. Before its attacks on churches, al Qaeda was targeting mosques all around the region.

Read the full story here.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Africa • Belief • Christianity • Egypt • Houses of worship • Iraq • Islam • Judaism • Mosque • Opinion

Radical cleric returns to Iraq from Iran
Radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has returned to Iraq after three years spent studying in Iran to become an ayatollah.
January 5th, 2011
02:23 PM ET

Radical cleric returns to Iraq from Iran

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.

Read the full story here about the return of al-Sadr to Iraq.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Iran • Iraq

December 29th, 2010
05:00 AM ET

My Take: Hating the war, loving my husband

Editor's note: Leeana Tankersley is the author of "Found Art: Discovering Beauty in Foreign Places," a spiritual memoir of the year she lived in the Middle East with her Navy SEAL husband. Follow Tankersley at www.gypsyink.com.

By Leeana Tankersley, Special to CNN

Unknowingly, I took a bullet to the gut when I married Steve, a shot right through me that has left me tender and - at times - doubled over.

No one ever told me that marrying a Navy SEAL would leave me so vulnerable. At first, the job seemed sexy and noble, being the wife of a clean-cut pirate with health insurance and a retirement. Who could resist his green eyes in that camouflage uniform?

And then we went to war.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Afghanistan • Belief • Christianity • Iraq • United States • Violence

December 24th, 2010
10:43 AM ET

Iraq's Christmas fears

Many Christians in Iraq are afraid they'll be targeted by militants. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh reports.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Iraq

Some Iraqi churches tone down holiday festivities over threats
December 23rd, 2010
10:44 AM ET

Some Iraqi churches tone down holiday festivities over threats

Some churches in Iraq plan to tone down holiday celebrations following violence targeting Christians in recent weeks.

Church leaders made the decision recently after a meeting in Iraq's Kurdish north, said Archbishop Louis Sako, the head of the Chaldean Church in Kirkuk.

There will be no Christmas Eve mass, no Santa or decorations at some churches during Christmas or the New Year, Sako said. Some churches will continue with Christmas Day mass as usual.

Cancellations don't include the relatively safe Kurdish region in northern Iraq.

Authorities said they will increase security around churches in Kirkuk. In Mosul, residents said celebrations have been canceled.

Read the full story here of toned down Christmas in Iraq.
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church • Church and state • Iraq

U.N. cites 'a slow but steady exodus' of Iraqi Christians
December 17th, 2010
10:37 AM ET

U.N. cites 'a slow but steady exodus' of Iraqi Christians

By Joe Sterling, CNN

Violence in recent weeks has prompted a "slow but steady exodus" of Christians from the Iraqi cities of Baghdad and Mosul, the U.N. refugee agency said on Friday.

The trend started after a Baghdad church attack on October 31 and subsequent targeted attacks of Christians in Baghdad and Mosul.

The total death toll at Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad was 70, and 53 of the people killed in the strike were Christians, a minority group in a predominantly Muslim nation.

Read the full story of a Christian exodus from Iraq here.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church and state • Iraq • Violence

Iraq church siege victim: 'My soul is in this place with them'
December 10th, 2010
09:10 AM ET

Iraq church siege victim: 'My soul is in this place with them'

By Jomana Karadsheh, CNN

Rafah Butros sat alone, sobbing in a corner as priests prayed for peace and forgiveness.

She had not been to church in three years until October 31, when her cousin threatened to stop visiting her if she did not go.

That day, militants stormed Baghdad's Our Lady of Salvation Church, killing 51 congregants and two priests in a brutal attack that authorities said was the worst in a recent surge of violence targeting Iraq's Christians.

Butros survived. Her cousin, a 27-year-old priest, did not.

Butros was among more than 100 people who came to the church Thursday to mark 40 days since the attack - a mourning period commonly observed by some communities in the Middle East.

Read the full story here about the service to honor the victims of the Iraq church siege.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Bishops • Catholic Church • Christianity • Death • Iraq • Mass • Religious violence • Violence

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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.