August 10, 2013 |
CAIRO - When Hosni Mubarak ruled Egypt, Ahmed Helal was locked up four times in Tora prison, officials' favorite detention facility for perceived enemies of the state. Each time, he was arrested in the middle of the night and thrown in with scores of others whose only offense, they believed, was being Shiite Muslims. But Egypt's Shiite community - a small, reticent minority in a country dominated by Sunni Muslims - would come to view Mubarak's three-decade reign almost as the good old days.
June 22, 2013 |
CAIRO - Hezbollah's march into the Syrian civil war on behalf of President Bashar Assad is adding to tension along sectarian fault lines in a region increasingly roused by geopolitical maneuverings that are fueled by religious passions. Popular uprisings that overthrew secular autocrats in Egypt and other countries once enthralled Shiite and Sunni Muslims alike. But the replacement of fallen leaders by Islamist parties has further provoked the age-old vitriol between the sects, threatening to turn the Syrian battleground into a wider religious war. Hezbollah, long a proxy for Shiite-dominated Iran, is helping battle largely Sunni rebel forces seeking to overthrow Assad, a fellow ally of Iran whose Alawite faith is a spinoff of Shiite Islam.
June 15, 2013 |
TARTUS, Syria - War may be ravaging much of Syria, but there is no sign of conflict on bustling streets here, where diners wearing designer sunglasses order freshly caught fish at seaside cafes and gaze out on a palm-fringed expanse resembling a slightly tattered version of southern France or the Greek isles. Absent are the rows of pulverized apartment blocks that mark parts of battleground cities like Homs, Damascus and Aleppo. But that doesn't mean this ancient port - once home to Phoenicians, Romans and Crusaders - hasn't suffered its share of losses.
June 9, 2013 |
BEIRUT - A Lebanese demonstrator was shot dead outside the Iranian embassy here Sunday when clashes erupted against the Shiite militant group Hezbollah's widening involvement in the neighboring civil war in Syria. Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran, has riled sectarian tensions in the region by sending its fighters to support the army of Syrian President Bashar Assad. The official Lebanese new agency said Hisham Salman died shortly after being shot in front of the Iranian embassy in Beirut's Bir Hassan neighborhood.
May 26, 2013 |
BEIRUT - Lebanese leaders called on their people Sunday to reject sectarian attacks after a pair of rockets slammed into a Beirut neighborhood, raising fears that spillover violence from the conflict in neighboring Syria had come to the Lebanese capital. The early-morning strike, which left four men wounded, was widely seen as an attempt to foment sectarian strife and discord in a nation that shares many of the demographic traits of Syria, where a more-than-two-year conflict has played out across religious and ethnic lines.
May 17, 2013 |
MARAAT NUMAN, Syria - Each morning, after saluting the Syrian flag and before the warplanes take off, soldiers at army bases across Syria are given political orientation. During the lectures, conscripts and career officers alike are repeatedly told that opposition forces are fueled by sectarian hatred and want to tear the country apart. The message - of a war waged by Sunni Muslims against Syria's Alawite and Shiite minorities - is well understood. To Syrian soldiers, "It has essentially become sectarian; the Sunnis fight out of fear and the Alawites fight out of conviction," said Muhammad Zinedden, a Sunni conscript who defected in February from the 17th Engineering Regiment in Raqqa province.