Reuters blog archive
Nigeria's state security service (SSS) has arrested more than 100 suspected members of radical Islamist sect Boko Haram and had foiled a spate of attempted bombings in the past month and a half. Guerrilla attacks on police stations and assassinations by gunmen on motorbikes have killed more than 150 people since the start of the year in the remote northeastern state of Borno. Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for much of the violence.
Insecurity in parts of northern Nigeria has rapidly replaced militant attacks on oil infrastructure hundreds of kilometres away in the southern Niger Delta as the main security risk in Africa's most populous nation in recent months.
"Successful security operations have led to the arrest of some identified key cell commanders and members of the dissident group in Bauchi, Borno, Kaduna, Kano, Yobe and Adamawa," the SSS said in a statement on Monday, referring to six northern states.
The tiny southern French hamlet of Bugarach has drawn scrutiny from a government sect watchdog over droves of visitors who believe it is the only place in the world that will survive a 2012 Apocalypse. A report by the watchdog, Miviludes, published Wednesday said the picturesque village near Carcassonne should be monitored in the run-up to December 21, 2012, when many believe the world will end according to an ancient Mayan prophecy.
Miviludes was set up in 2002 to track the activity of sects, after a law passed the previous year made it an offence to abuse vulnerable people using heavy pressure techniques, meaning sects can be outlawed if there is evidence of fraud or abuse.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin cultivates the image of a bare-chested macho man, but a nun-like sect in central Russia thinks actually he's the reincarnation of St. Paul, the apostle. Or, if not that, he may in a past life have been the founder of the Russian Orthodox Church.
President Bashar al-Assad is increasingly relying on his Alawite power base to crush pro-democracy protests that have posed the boldest challenge to the Assad family's 41 years of rule over Syria. Assad, an Alawite, sent army and secret police units dominated by officers from the same minority sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam, into mainly Sunni urban centers to crush demonstrations calling for his removal for the last six weeks.
Hundreds of Muslim radicals set two churches ablaze and attacked a court in Indonesia's central Java on Tuesday, calling for harsh punishment for a Christian on trial for blasphemy, police said.
A Canadian court opened hearings on Monday into whether anti-polygamy laws violate constitutional protections of religious freedom. The court is wrestling with civil liberties and moral questions surrounding a breakaway sect of the Mormon church that has practiced plural marriages at its compound in rural British Columbia since the late 1940s. (Photo: U.S. polygamist group leader Warren Jeffs escorted into a court hearing, in Las Vegas, Nevada, August 31, 2006/Steve Marcus)
"We are beginning on an historic reference," Robert Bauman, chief justice of the British Columbia Supreme Court told a packed courtroom in Vancouver.
(Photo: Sections of the Dead Sea scrolls at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, May 14, 2008/Baz Ratner)
Scholars and anyone with an Internet connection will be able to take a new look into the Biblical past through an online archive of high-resolution images of the 2,000-year-old Dead Sea Scrolls.
Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), the custodian of the scrolls that shed light on the life of Jews and early Christians at the time of Jesus, said on Tuesday it was collaborating with Google's research and development center in Israel to upload digitized images of the entire collection.
Billed as the "Polygamy Experience," the four-hour, $70 tour takes visitors through the middle of the polygamist enclave Colorado City on the Utah-Arizona border. Children play in yards, families picnic in parks and teenage boys gallop their horses away from the guests. Women with old-fashioned braided hair and pioneer dresses usher the little ones out of eyesight.
Official discrimination in Pakistan against the Ahmadi Muslim sect fuels hatred of the community and prompts violent attacks against them, according to three U.N. human rights investigators.
In a statement issued by the United Nations in Geneva following deadly bombings last Friday of two Ahmadi mosques in Lahore, the three said the authorities had failed to head off the attacks despite many signs that they were coming.
from India Insight:
The root cause may lie in India's caste system that Sikhism officially rejects, but that still grips swathes of India's billion-plus people, including in Sikh-dominated Punjab state in northwestern India.