Pope prays for Syria and Myanmar in Christmas message
December 26th, 2011
12:23 AM ET

Pope prays for Syria and Myanmar in Christmas message

By the CNN Wire Staff

Vatican City (CNN) – Pope Benedict XVI prayed for peace in Syria, reconciliation in Myanmar, and comfort in flood-stricken Thailand and the Philippines in his annual Christmas message "To the City and the World" on Sunday.

Addressing a packed St. Peter's Square on a glorious sunny day, the pope pleaded with God to "bring an end to the violence in Syria, where so much blood has already been shed."

More than 5,000 people have died in Syria since President Bashar al-Assad began a brutal crackdown in mid-March on anti-government protesters calling for his ouster, the United Nations said earlier this month.

In his Christmas morning speech, Benedict also urged the international community to help those suffering hunger and insecurity in the Horn of Africa, a reference to famine and violence in Somalia and Kenya.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christmas • Holidays • Pope Benedict XVI • Syria • Vatican

August 30th, 2011
09:47 AM ET

Muslim festival brings rare joy for some this year, but not all cheer

By Richard Allen Greene and Yasmeen Amer, CNN

For Christians, the wild celebrations of Mardi Gras come before the solemnity of Lent, a last chance to celebrate before the abstinence marking the 40 days to Good Friday and Easter.

Muslims do it the other way around. First comes the month of daytime fasting during Ramadan, then the eruption of joy called Eid al-Fitr, marked with gift-giving, new clothes, donations to the poor, feasting and festivities.

But as the sighting of a crescent moon officially marked the beginning of Eid on Tuesday, feelings are decidedly mixed for many Muslims.

There's joy tempered with concern on Tahrir Square in Egypt, which saw a successful revolution topple President Hosni Mubarak this year. And there's optimism in Libya, where 42 years of rule by Moammar Gadhafi seem to be coming to an end.

Read the full story
- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Egypt • Eid al-Fitr • Islam • Middle East • Pakistan • Syria • Uncategorized

June 17th, 2011
10:16 AM ET

Prayer and politics: How Friday became the Middle East's day of protest

By Mairi Mackay, CNN

(CNN) - Ever since he was a boy, Friday has been a day of prayer and rest for Murad Alazzany.

Following a rhythm as old as Islam itself, Fridays meant lunchtime prayers at the mosque and relaxing with friends and family for the rest of the day.

But that was before protests and revolutions across the Middle East smashed decades-old regimes and caused unprecedented civil unrest.

Yemen's uprising started in January this year, spurred on by the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions, and since then, Fridays have had a very different flavor for Alazzany and tens of thousands of Yemenis like him.

Alazzany, who is an assistant professor at Sanaa University, still goes to Friday prayers, known as Jumu'ah, but not in a mosque. Instead, he prays in the street alongside fellow activists and anti-government demonstrators.

Read the full story on how Friday prayers are feeding the Middle East protests
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Middle East • Prayer • Syria

Syrian president fires Daraa governor after violence at mosque
A Syrian man looks at a damaged Automated Teller Machine in Daraa on Monday following a crackdown on protests.
March 23rd, 2011
01:26 PM ET

Syrian president fires Daraa governor after violence at mosque

The head of Syria's Daraa governate was removed from his position Wednesday as violence flared in the city of Daraa, Syrian state television reported.

Earlier Wednesday, Syrian security forces opened fire into a crowd of demonstrators in front of a mosque in Daraa, witnesses said.

Reports from human rights and advocacy groups said up to six people were killed and a number of others wounded in the incident.

An eyewitness who did not want his named used out of concern for his safety said security forces shot into the crowd in front of the Al Omari mosque before daybreak. He also said he heard an explosion.

Read the full story
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Syria

October 8th, 2010
11:37 AM ET

Israel grants hundreds of Druze passage to Syria for first time

CNN’s Paul Colsey filed this report from Jerusalem:

Israel has granted permission for 300 Druze clerics to travel to Syria, an Israel Interior Ministry official told CNN Thursday, marking the first time the Jewish state has allowed so many Druze to visit Syria for a religious pilgrimage and to visit relatives.

Said Mudani, representative for minorities at Israel's Interior Ministry, said the move came in a response to a request by Druze spiritual leader Wafaq Tarif.


- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Druze • Israel • Middle East • Syria

« newer 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.