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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.’

Two Saudi rapists beheaded

TWO SAUDI men were beheaded yesterday for kidnapping and raping a young boy.

Clashes tested Indonesian army's patience

HOURS before last night's confrontation between the Indonesian army and students started, there was a worrying portent of trouble to come, as thousands of Islamic supporters of Indonesia's President Habibie threw stones and scuffled with demonstrating students in Jakarta.

Cinema: If you go down to the Tube today...

THERE ARE parallel universes out there where Rome never fell, where Hitler won the war and where Brad Pitt and Gwyneth Paltrow lived happily ever after. In Sliding Doors (15), writer-director Peter Howitt brushes up his quantum physics to demonstrate that the tiniest events can generate a variety of different futures. Navigating the sort of inter- dimensional anomaly that regularly plagues the cast of Star Trek, he pursues two possible versions of the life of his heroine Helen (played by Gwyneth Paltrow). In the first version of events, she misses her Tube, and so returns home too late to catch her boyfriend, Gerry (a beetle-browned John Lynch), in bed with old flame Lydia (Jeanne Tripplehorn, a terrifying woman with neck sinews as tight and prominent as Deirdre Barlow's). Or maybe it doesn't happen at all ...

Grim task in Mecca

FAMILY, friends and diplomats combed hospitals and mortuaries in Mecca, Saudi Arabia yesterday to identify 118 Muslim pilgrims killed in a stampede on the last day of the annual haj.

India's new rulers enter with a whiff of fascism

The BJP nationalists' victory has made little stir, writes Peter Popham. But the world may soon have reason to take notice

Nephew of King Fahd dies

Prince Abdullah bin Saud bin Abdul-Aziz, a nephew of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, died on Saturday, a Royal Court statement said. He was 65. The statement said Prince Abdullah had suffered for a long time from an incurable illness, but it did not say what the illness was. The Prince was governor of the holy city of Mecca during the reign of his late father, King Saud, King Fahd's brother, who ruled from 1953 to 1964.

The best vacations are not an escape, but a liberation

holidays of the mind

Middle East: Septuplets born in Saudi Arabia

A Saudi woman has given birth to seven babies - four boys and three girls. It is only the third set of septuplets known to be born alive.

Muslim was unfairly treated over headscarf

A Muslim woman who returned to her job wearing a headscarf after a pilgrimage to Mecca was sacked after her foreman claimed it was a safety hazard.

Mecca bingo hall outrages Muslims

A change of name at a Luton bingo hall has met with violent protest from the town's Muslim population - who object to it being called "Mecca".

Letter: Faith and blame

Sir: Robert Fisk's "Religion in the Middle East: the fundamental problem" (3 Dec 1997) was very thought-provoking, and I must congratulate him for his courage in highlighting the threat from fundamentalists belonging to Judaism and Christianity. The media in the West goes out of its way to tarnish the image of Islam by associating "terrorism" and "fundamentalism" to it, while ignoring the militant and terrorist activities associated with other religions. Robert Fisk has a more enlightened outlook.

Travel was once about pilgrimage. It is again

It Almost seems facetious to talk about holidays and travel after this strange week through which we have lived - except perhaps to cogitate on the rum old fact that travel was never supposed to be a joyful experience.

A match made in Mecca - we hope

Dodi Fayed is one of `us' and he has got hold of the most famous and feted of all of `them', writes Fuad Nahdi

The fine art of drinking coffee

Connoisseurs can buy art with their espresso.

Letter: Saudis reform trial procedure

Saudis reform trial procedure
Sport
Brazilian fans watch the match for third place between Brazil and Netherlands
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Sport
Robin van Persie hands his third-place medal to a supporter
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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

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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
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Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
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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?