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.’

Hindu holy man reveals truth of terror attacks blamed on Muslims

India is being forced to confront disturbing evidence that increasingly suggests a secret Hindu terror network may have been responsible for a wave of deadly attacks previously blamed on radical Muslims.

Mary Ann Sieghart: There are lessons for us from Arizona

People can read whatever biased trash they like but at least there is a corrective when they watch or listen to the news

Faithful gather around for key ritual of the Haj

Tens of thousands of Muslim pilgrims move around the Kaaba, the black cube that sits within the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, during this year's Haj.

Old foes, nasty news, John Major Syndrome, and an arresting outfit

<b>David Randall</b>: The two Yemeni parcel bombs discovered on planes 10 days ago carried not only the addresses of Chicago synagogues but also, above them, a pair of intriguing names.

48 Hours In: Mumbai

Autumn is the ideal time to visit India&rsquo;s most cosmopolitan city &ndash; with plenty to nourish the body and soul

Nicholas Lezard: How not to greet a little green man

I would not necessarily assume that the first human being an alien will want to speak to is an astrophysicist

From floods to fasting: How Pakistan&rsquo;s recent natural disaster cast its shadow over Ramadan

As Ramadan drew to a close, the photographer Alixandra Fazzina, who witnessed the devastation of Pakistan first-hand, examined how Muslim celebrations were affected in both the flood-hit land and among the community in the UK

Silver spoon successes: The intellectual, affluent and well-connected new generation of Young British Artists

Today's Young British Artists are well-connected, appear in Tatler and are mostly Oxbridge-educated &ndash; a far cry from the rough edges of Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst.

Reality show concludes hunt for 'ultimate young imam'

An Islamic reality TV show that made its contestants counsel promiscuous teenagers and bury corpses has named a mosque prayer leader as Malaysia's top role model for young Muslims.

Indonesia's Muslims miss Mecca (by about 1,500 miles)

For more than 200 million Muslims in Indonesia, Mecca just moved. Instead of facing Islam's most holy city, a clerical error of astronomoical proportions has seen the faithful directing their prayers towards Kenya and southern Somalia.

Christina Patterson: Moderate Islam must find its voice

Religion is here to stay. Dawkins can rant till the sacred cows come home, but people have always yearned for the transcendent, and always will

Michael McCarthy: Why the blackthorn is a herald of spring

Some signs of spring are particularly moving because they have remained free from the clutches of cliché. I yield to no-one in my appreciation of primroses and cowslips, even of municipal daffodils, God bless them in their regimented beds, but there is another mark of the shift in the seasons which stirs something deeper in me, and that is the blossoming of the blackthorn.

TV psychic will not be beheaded for 'witchcraft', lawyer says

A Lebanese television psychic who was condemned to death for witchcraft by a Saudi court while visiting the country will not be beheaded, his lawyer said yesterday. May al-Khansa said that the Saudi ambassador in Beirut informed the Lebanese justice minister, Ibrahim Najjar, that the execution of Ali Sibat would not take place.

Treasures make pilgrimage for Hajj exhibition

British Museum to show artefacts from holiest Muslim sites

Family pleads for return of father sentenced to death for witchcraft

Lebanese pilgrim, arrested and convicted in Saudi Arabia on sorcery charges for his role in a TV show, due to be executed on Thursday
Sport
Thiago Silva pulls Arjen Robben back to concede a penalty
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: More misery for hosts as Dutch take third place
Sport
Robin van Persie hands his third-place medal to a supporter
Van Persie gives bronze medal to eccentric fan moments after being handed it by Blatter
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
scienceScientists have developed a material so dark you can't see it...
News
Monkey business: Serkis is the king of the non-human character performance
peopleFirst Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Career Services

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Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?