Morocco religion: Controversy over freedom

b_172_129_16777215_00_images_MAR130218AA003.jpegCASABLANCA, Morocco — The slogan displayed on the profile pictures of hundreds of Moroccan Facebook users was stark: “In Morocco, Eating Kills.”

The message referred to the incident two years ago when six Moroccans were arrested for having a picnic during Ramadan in protest of a law banning eating in public during Ramadan. 

Read more at Global Post

Libyan conflict: Rebels in deadlock

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SIRTE, Libya — The fighters ran from building to building, ducking as weapons fire came in over the rooftops around them.

Shouting "Allahu Akbar (God is great)," they pounded nearby apartment blocks with machine gun fire in one of the few parts of Moammar Gadhafi's hometown they have yet to subdue.

Read more at USA Today

Syria on Verge of Civil War

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_syriacrowds-032912-lo-00.jpegCAIRO - As the situation in Syria gets bloodier and Syrian leader Bashar al Assad becomes increasingly isolated internationally, some Syrians say the country is on the verge of a civil war being instigated by the regime.

"[The regime] is trying to push [the opposition] more and more into having a sectarian war - they are trying to push a civil war," said Hozan Ibrahim, an activist with the Local Coordination Committee of Syria based in Germany. "They couldn't stop the demonstrations so they are doing what they can to put themselves and the people on the same level of violence so they can be condemned [also]."

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Damascus feels effects of crippled economy

b_160_0_16777215_00_images_ara-damascus-gillespie.jpegDAMASCUS - The rows of sparkling 18-carat gold bangle bracelets have long since been removed from the cramped, tiny jewelry shops in the Salihiya neighborhood of Damascus. Many of the shops and travel agencies clustered in this popular shopping district are closed until further notice. Though more than 8.3 million tourists passed through Syria in 2010 generating 12 percent of the GDP, according to the Syrian Ministry of Tourism, this year, the streets of the Syrian capital tell a different story - of empty Internet cafes, deserted dining tables at popular restaurants and the cloud of fear and uncertainty that hangs over the city.

In the Christian neighborhoods of Bab Touma and Bab Sharqi, a haven for foreign students who rent rooms in the large homes hidden behind high walls, hardly a Westerner or even a foreigner can be found these days.

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A routine, care and gratitude: Inside the Boynuyogun camp at the Turkish-Syrian border

b_172_129_16777215_00_images_ara-turkeysyria-somaskanda.jpegGUEVECCI, Turkey - Driving east out of the populated Turkish city of Antakya, green fields and hills of olive trees make up a lush landscape scarce of people or dwellings. But nearing the Syrian border, the Boynuyogun camp greets like a desert tent encampment, rising out of nowhere.

Rows upon rows of hundreds of neat white tents bearing the Red Crescent logo are shrouded by a mesh fence covered in white cloth to keep outsiders from peering in. The only neighbors around are a few cattle grazing the fields. And behind the fence, young boys sit on top of a retaining wall, waving at passersby and shouting "Hello, how are you?" as a few faces appear from behind the fence, hungry for communication with the outside world.

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'We have to help them': Turks worry over Syrians

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GUEVECCI, Turkey - Among low rolling hills and patches of sun-scorched earth, Turkey's Red Crescent refugee camps seem to appear out of nowhere: Rows upon rows of white tents encircled by tall steel fences and armed guards.

More than 8,000 Syrian refugees are now housed in five Red Crescent camps in Turkey's Hatay province, and a sixth camp, built to accommodate another 15,000 people, is underway. Red Crescent officials have estimated there are thousands more camped out near the Turkish border, many of whom are waiting to cross over.

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