Reuters blog archive
(Photo: Riot police stand guard near the Orthodox church in Alexandria, Egypt bombed during Orthodox Christmas Mass, January 6, 2011/Asmaa Waguih)
An Egyptian state security court on Sunday sentenced a Muslim man to death for killing six Coptic Christians and a Muslim police officer in a drive-by shooting on Coptic Christmas Eve in January 2010.
Mohamed Ahmed Hussein, 39, known as Hamam Kamouni, had been charged with the "premeditated murder" of the Christians and the police officer and with "intimidating citizens" in Nagaa Hamady in southern Egypt after mass on the eve of Coptic Christmas.
The judge said Hussein's sentence would be sent to the Grand Mufti for confirmation, a reference to Egypt's top religious authority who is called on to confirm death sentences.
The court said Hussein's two accomplices, Kurashi Abu Haggag and Hindawi Muhammed Sayyid, who were charged with aiding in the murder and possession of weapons, would be announced on February 20.
from Africa News blog:
As delighted southern Sudanese voted in a long-awaited referendum on independence, visitors to the north and south could be forgiven for thinking they were already two separate countries.
(Photo: After an explosion in Nigeria's central city of Jos on December 25, 2010 picture/Afolabi Sotunde)
Clashes broke out between armed Christian and Muslim groups near the central Nigerian city of Jos on Sunday, a Reuters witness said, after Christmas Eve bombings in the region killed more than 30 people.
Buildings were set ablaze and people were seen running for cover as the police and military arrived on the scene in an effort to disperse crowds. This correspondent saw dozens of buildings on fire and injured people covered in blood being dragged by friends and family to hospital.
(Photo: Pictures of victims killed in an attack of Our Lady of Salvation church shown there on Christmas Eve in Baghdad December 24, 2010/Mohammed Ameen)
Normally on Christmas Eve, Ban Zaki puts on festive clothes and takes her family to Baghdad's Our Lady of Salvation church for lively holiday celebrations.
Not this year.
Dressed in black and fighting back tears, she has brought her three children to the church to honour her late husband, who was killed along with 51 others when Iraqi forces stormed it after militants took hostages during Sunday mass on Oct 31.
(Photo: Two Indonesian women -- the one on the left wearing a Muslim headscarf -- pose for a photo in front of a Christmas tree in a shopping mall in Jakarta December 23, 2010/Dadang Tri)
Opulent Christmas decorations at shopping malls in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, could incite anger among non-Christians, the country's highest Islamic authority said on Thursday. Although 90 percent of the country's 240 million people are Muslim, the capital's myriad glitzy malls have been decorated with Christmas lights and bunting -- including faux snow, Santas and nativity scenes.
"Christmas describes a certain religion, and if the religion advertises it too overtly -- even though they have only a small number of followers -- it will cause jealousy and anger from other groups," said Ma'ruf Amin, of Indonesia's Ulema Council.
(Photo: Pope Benedict waves from his private apartment in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican January 4, 2009/Tony Gentile)
Pope Benedict has recorded a Christmas message at the Vatican specially for Britain following his successful state visit to the country in September, according to the BBC. It is the first time the pope has addressed a Christmas message specifically to one of the countries visited during the year, the state-funded broadcaster said.
The recording will be broadcast on Christmas Eve in the "Thought for the Day" slot on the BBC Radio 4 current affairs programme "Today."
(Photo: Refugee Iraqi Christians attend a pre-Christmas mass at Chaldean Catholic church in Amman December 22, 2010/Ali Jarekji)
Some church leaders in Iraq have told Christians not to celebrate Christmas except with prayer after lethal attacks and continuing threats by militants against the Iraqi Christian community.
"No Santa Claus, no celebrations, no gifts this year," Archbishop Louis Sako, chairman of the Chaldean archbishops in Kirkuk and Sulaimaniya, said on Wednesday. "We don't have the right to jeopardize others' lives."
Michael Bolton has gone from Dancing with the Stars to singing for the saints.
"I feel humbled here," Bolton said after recording the traditional Christmas concert in the frescoed basilica of St Francis of Assisi with Israeli singer Noa and New York conductor Steven Mercurio. "I feel humbled to be reminded of the teachings of St Francis, which I was introduced to at a very young age. I don't know anyone who is not moved by his story," he said. (Photo: Chelsie Hightower and Michael Bolton after the premiere of "Dancing with the Stars Season 11" in Los Angeles September 20, 2010/Fred Prouser)
With Giotto's awe-inspiring frescoes of the scenes in the life of St. Francis on both sides of him, Bolton sang "The Prayer," "O Holy Night," and Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" for the concert that will be broadcast on Eurovision on Dec 25.
(Photo: Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir addresses a rally in Gedaref, December 19, 2010/stringer)
Sudan will adopt an Islamic constitution if the south splits away in a referendum next month, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir said on Sunday. The vote on independence for south Sudan is scheduled to start in three weeks and was promised in a 2005 peace deal that ended a civil war between the mainly Muslim north and the south, where most follow traditional beliefs and Christianity.
"If south Sudan secedes, we will change the constitution and at that time there will be no time to speak of diversity of culture and ethnicity," the president told supporters at a rally in the eastern city of Gedaref. "Sharia (Islamic law) and Islam will be the main source for the constitution, Islam the official religion and Arabic the official language," he said.
(Photo: An Iraqi Christian refugee lights candles at an Orthodox church in Amman on November 7, 2010 for victims of the attack on Our Lady of Salvation church of Baghdad on October 31/Ali Jarekji)
Thousands of Iraqi Christians have fled their homes to semi-autonomous Kurdish areas and neighbouring countries since a Catholic church in Baghdad was attacked six weeks ago, the U.N. refugee agency has said.
Some 1,000 Christian families, roughly 6,000 people, have arrived in the northern Kurdish areas from Baghdad, Mosul and Nineveh, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said. Several thousand have crossed into Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.