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Egyptian Cleric Pleads Not Guilty in NY Court

Abu Hamza al-Masri accused of backing US terror training camp

(Newser) - Abu Hamza al-Masri has pleaded not guilty of conspiring to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon. The Egyptian cleric entered the plea in New York City today after being extradited from Britain , the AP reports. Two others who arrived from the UK, Khaled al-Fawwaz and Adel Abdul Bary,... More »

Iran Woman Beats Cleric Who Told Her to Cover Up

He's hospitalized for 3 days: report

(Newser) - En route to a local mosque, an Iranian cleric saw a woman he believed was inappropriately dressed, so he warned her to cover up. "You, cover your eyes," she replied, instead putting her dukes up and giving him a shove. "I fell on my back on the... More »

Muqtada al-Sadr: We Reject America

Cleric gives fiery speech after ending 4-year exile

(Newser) - Muqtada al-Sadr returned to Iraq Thursday after a four-year exile, and his first speech back made it clear that absence hadn't made the Shiite cleric's heart grow fonder of the US. "Let the whole world hear that we reject America. No, no to the occupier," the fiery 37-year-old... More »

Ft. Hood Suspect to Appear in Court

Defense team will seek delay

(Newser) - The man accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood , Nidal Hasan , will make his first court appearance today in a preliminary hearing. His lawyers will seek to delay an Article 32 hearing that will determine if his case should go to trial, reports the AP . The army has already... More »

Ahmadinejad 2nd Term Blessed, Iran TV Airs 'Confessions'

(Newser) - As his adversaries faced a mass court hearing condemned as a show trial, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was formally endorsed today for a second term as president of Iran. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei conducted the ceremony, which Mir Hossein Mousavi and other opposition figures boycotted. The endorsement came after state television screened courtroom... More »

Reformers Teargassed as Iran's Top Cleric Demands Change

(Newser) - Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the former Iranian president and most powerful supporter of Mir Hossein Mousavi, addressed thousands of young reformists in green today in a highly anticipated sermon that may trigger further protests. The visibly upset cleric demanded that all political prisoners be freed and lamented that "we had... More »

Mousavi's Options Dwindle as Time Ticks Away

Beaten on the streets, reformer takes uphill battle to the elite

(Newser) - The Iranian protest movement is running out of time and options as the regime continues its brutal crackdown, Time reports. Government forces have full control of the streets of Tehran, hundreds of political opponents are in jail, and Western journalists have been packed off. Mir Hossein Mousavi now has no... More »

Iran Cleric: Execute the 'Rioters'

(Newser) - Iran’s Guardian Council today called the election the “healthiest since the revolution,” and one of its members suggested executing the “rioters” protesting it, Reuters reports. “I want the judiciary to punish leading rioters firmly and without showing any mercy,” Ahmad Khatami told worshipers at... More »

In the Shadows, Ayatollah's Son Calls the Shots

Mojtaba Khamenei has power throughout the security apparatus

(Newser) - Ayatollah Ali Khamenei rarely appears in public and cultivates a shadowy reputation—but even further out of the public eye, his son has become one of the post powerful men in Iran. Ultraconservative cleric Mojtaba Khamenei, believed to be around 50 years old, has connections throughout the Revolutionary Guards and... More »

Iran Releases 4 Family Members of Former Prez

(Newser) - Iran is calm but tense today as police freed four family members of a former president and important Iranian cleric, the Los Angeles Times reports. But the oldest daughter of Hashemi Rafsanjani, a key backer of challenger Mir-Hossein Mousavi, was not released by authorities in Tehran. Five members of Rafsanjani's... More »

Clerics Invite Opposition to Talk

(Newser) - Iran’s Guardian Council has invited all three opposition candidates to a meeting to air their grievances Saturday, the New York Times reports. But the opposition is likely to view that olive branch warily; it has already turned down the council’s offer for a partial recount. Protesters say they... More »

As Iran Unrest Goes On, Watch the Clerics

Mullahs far from Tehran may step in to end election dispute

(Newser) - As protesters continue to express anger and defy arrest, the endgame of Iran's disputed election may take place not in Tehran, but in the holy city of Qom—where the country's powerful clerics have so far kept silent. Except for a few prominent reformists, Iran's mullahs have refused to take... More »

Ayatollah Authority Undercut by Flip-Flop

Protests are weakening Khamenei's grip on Iranian regime

(Newser) - The about-face done by Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei—first blessing the victory of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Friday's election then opening an inquiry into vote fraud yesterday—was a rare misstep for the shadowy, usually cautious ayatollah, the New York Times reports, and may have done substantial damage to his reputation,... More »

Pakistan Suicide Bombing Kills Moderate Cleric

(Newser) - One of Pakistan’s most prominent anti-Taliban clerics was killed today in a suicide bomb attack, the Times of London reports. Sarfraz Ahmed Naeemi, who supported the Pakistan army’s campaign in the Swat Valley, died on the way to the hospital after an explosion at his Islamic college in... More »

Top Saudi Cleric Backs Marriage of 10-Year-Old Girls

They're not too young, declares grand mufti

(Newser) - The top Muslim cleric in Saudi Arabia has issued a statement supporting marriage for girls as young as 10, reports CNN. "Those who think she's too young are wrong and they are being unfair to her," he declared. The statement follows the refusal last month by a Saudi... More »

Cleric Journeys From al-Qaeda to US Ally

Sunni leader gives up on 'bankrupt' insurgency

(Newser) - A young man who holds sway over one Iraqi town embodies the country’s transition from dictatorship through insurgency to today’s “murkier contest,” the Washington Post reports. Sunni cleric Nadhim Khalil often slammed Saddam Hussein’s government when it was in power. But when it fell, he... More »

Sadr Cultivates Respect, Image to Reflect Power

Militia chief moves toward mainstream, hones clerical chops

(Newser) - Muqtada al-Sadr aims to shed his reputation as a dim-witted thug and become a respected Iraqi cleric like his father, the Washington Post reports, and has even spent the past year studying in Iran. Sadr, then nicknamed "Muqtada Atari" for his love of video games, was 25 when the... More »

Iranian Lawman Blasts Barbie

Top prosecutor calls for ban on Western toy imports

(Newser) - Barbie, Batman, and Harry Potter have no place in the Islamic Republic of Iran, says the nation's top prosecutor. He warned of the "social danger" that toys and other Western cultural imports pose to his country and has called for a ban, the BBC reports. Barbie is a big... More »

Al-Sadr Orders His Militia Off Streets of Basra

He offers weakened Maliki a truce deal as violence continues

(Newser) - Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr ordered his fighters to leave the streets of Basra and other cities, reports the BBC, in an effort to end clashes with security forces. “Anyone carrying a weapon and targeting government institutions will not be one of us,” Sadr said, but minutes after... More »

Pakistani Cleric Calls Ceasefire

Dozens killed in clashes with government troops, helicopters

(Newser) - Supporters of an extremist cleric who had declared a jihad against Pakistan agreed to a ceasefire today after fierce fighting this weekend claimed between 50 and 60 of their number, Al Jazeera reports. Pakistan had sent 2,500 paramilitary troops to Swat to head off Maulana Fazlullah, who wants to... More »

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