News

From drunken nights out with a llama to testicle-eating fishes, it’s a mixed bag of stories you’ve been sharing on social media in 2013.

Among the top twenty Independent articles you’ve been tweeting and posting on Facebook this year, there are serious reports, ferocious comment pieces, astounding research and a fair few articles that pay tribute to the adage ‘the truth is stranger than fiction.’

Saudi Arabia: Driving a 'threat to virgin brides'

If Saudi women are allowed to drive, it will lead to them having premarital sex, a report to a high-level advisory group claims, according to a rights activist.

'I never hated Mark. My religion teaches that forgiveness is always better than vengeance'

Rais Bhuiyan is campaigning for clemency for the man who shot him at point-blank range in a drug-fuelled, post-9/11 hate crime in Texas. Jerome Taylor reports on his extraordinary magnanimity

Women defy Saudi Arabia's driving ban

Activists urging women in Saudi Arabia to defy a ban on driving say some have taken to the road in a planned challenge against the restrictions.

Azerbaijan admits censorship at Biennale

The work of one of Azerbaijan's leading artists, at the centre of an embarrassing dispute at the prestigious Venice Art Biennale, has been removed from the festival after the country's President apparently intervened to say the works were distasteful.

Venetian mask: Azerbaijan censors its own Biennale entry

The Azerbaijan government has staged a literal cover-up at this year's Venice Biennale, the world's most high-profile showcase of contemporary art, by hiding the work of one of its own artists beneath a piece of cloth.

No release for Saudi woman driver

A Saudi woman detained for defying the ultra-conservative kingdom's ban on female drivers will be held in detention for at least 10 more days, a lawyer and rights activist said yesterday.

Yasmin Alibbai-Brown: Sixteen reasons why I object to this dangerous cover-up

A dress code for Muslim women when in public institutions would free up our faith from the grip of fanatics and reintegrate us into our country

Boyd Tonkin: Reality intrudes at the Arabic Booker prize

The week in books

Saudi foreign minister warns against protests

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said today that dialogue — not protests — is the way to bring reform and warned that the oil-rich nation will take strong action if activists take to the streets.

Will Saudi be the next to rise up?

It is strange to read in the news that the Saudi monarchy has "banned" demonstrations; as if such demonstrations were allowed in the first place.

Joseph Conrad's Malaysia: Cruise exotic cross-currents of food and culture

My purest Joseph Conrad moment in Malaysia came after a dawn flight from the island of Penang down the coast of the peninsula to Kuala Lumpur. Half-awake, I stumbled into the KL arrivals hall to find it a sea of white robes. The crowd trailed cardboard monoliths of baggage tied in string: they were hajjis, just returned from Mecca.

Why did a trusted bodyguard turn fanatical assassin?

By murdering the politician he was supposed to protect, Mumtaz Qadri has become a hero for Islamists
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Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border