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.’

Pilgrims' progress

Channel 4 has gained rare access to the haj in Mecca. Bader Ben Hirsi is one of those filming the event

Obituary: Michel Pinseau

MICHEL PINSEAU graduated from the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux Arts as an architect in 1956 and began to take part in the building frenzy that marked the beginning of the so-called "30 glorious years", the years of prosperity. In Paris there was an instant need for new offices and, in the Paris region, a great demand for housing.

The legend of the holy tomato

Look very closely at this tomato. Does it contain just seeds and flesh - or can you make out the word - the Arabic symbol for Allah? If so, you are just one of the witnesses to the miracle of Bradford.

Faith & Reason: Elvis, Dawkins, the Pope and the lesser of evils

Want to know the difference between religion and mere supersition? Then first consider the distinctions between atheism and science and decide which could best do business with organised crime

Fat chance of turning this tide of old cobblers

Could Lord Bragg not use a more sensitive phrase, like `a naturally heavy-boned lot of good'?

Faith & Reason: The veil which shrouds Mecca starts to lift

For centuries Islam's holiest city has refused access to all non- Muslims. But the appetites of a global media may cause profound change

Historical Notes: A proud people who built aqueducts by eye

BURSTING OUT of Anatolia in the 14th century, the Ottoman Turks conquered the whole Balkan peninsula, from the Adriatic to the Black Sea. By the time Mehmed the Conqueror took Constantinople (Istanbul) in 1453, most of Europe's Orthodox population was under Ottoman rule. In 1517 the empire swept up the heartlands of Islam - Syria, Arabia, and Egypt, along with the Holy Cities of Mecca and Medina. In Europe, Belgrade held out until 1524, but it was captured by Suleiman the Magnificent, whose armies overran Hungary and laid siege to Vienna.

Travel: Passport - Paco Pena: `I have never found anywhere more beautiful than Rome ...'

I love London desperately. I have a home there (as well as one in my Spanish home-town of Cordoba), and it is where I began my solo effort in life. It is where I took my first steps abroad and it marked the beginning of my career as an international flamenco guitarist.

Travel: Saudi - Wine, women and song? No chance

Jeremy Atiyah, who has travelled widely in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, assesses the prospects for the first British package holiday- makers

The West is blind to its own hypocrisy: Faith & Reason

For Muslims the festival of Eid should be a joyous celebration at the end of a month of fasting. But this year it is wrapped in a cloth of suffering

Wednesday Book: Cursed with good fortune

SAUDI ARABIA: THE SHAPE

Obituary: Professor Syed Ali Ashraf

THE MUSLIMS most prominent in the British media are known because of the noise they make and the heat they generate. They fit into preconceived ideas of Muslim fanatics and extremists. It is natural therefore that Syed Ali Ashraf is virtually unknown in the media. This is a pity, as Ashraf was one of the half-dozen most important Muslim scholars of the last few decades.

An uneasy crown passes to prince

THE SULTAN of Brunei yesterday invested his eldest son as his successor in a glittering ceremony that was intended to underline the stability of the oil-rich but troubled monarchy.
Career Services

Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
3.	Provence 6 nights B&B by train from £599pp
Prices correct as of 20 February 2015
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003