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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.’

Calendar filling fast as card firms tap new vein of cash

It's 12 May - does that ring a bell? It doesn't? How could you forget that today is Happy Nurses' Day?

Saddam tests US resolve on no-fly zone

Iraq yesterday tested the ban on flights over the southern half of the country by sending helicopters into the no-fly zone to pick up 1,000 Iraqi pilgrims returning from the haj, the pilgrimage to Mecca.

Saudis clear debris of Mecca's hellish pilgrimage inferno pilgrimage inferno deckys

Saudi Arabian authorities in Mecca were yesterday trying to identify the bodies of 217 Muslim pilgrims burned to death in the fire which engulfed their tent city as they attended the Hajj pilgrimage.

Forces accused of condoning racist abuse Racist abuse still entrenched in the forces challenged over pervasive racism

The Armed Forces still have a "pervasive, long running and deeply entrenched problem of racism", according to an independent survey published yesterday.

Why fine titles make exceedingly fine writers

The Agreeable World of Wallace Arnold

One candle in the heart of darkness

The Mufti of Banja Luka lives on among those who killed his people. He tells Robert Fisk (left) why he is ready to forgive

Saudis behead four Nigerians

Four Nigerian men were beheaded in Mecca for robbing a gold store, the Saudi Arabian Interior Ministry said in a statement.

Islamic tiger stalks Indonesia's old guard

Attacks on Christian churches suggest the era of tolerance is ending, reports Richard Lloyd Parry from Surabaya

Obituary: Ella Collins

Ella Collins was the half-sister and guardian and in later life a trusted adviser of the black Muslim and radical leader Malcolm X. After his assassination in 1965 she took over the group he founded, the Organisation of Afro-American Unity, but later converted to orthodox Islam.

Travellers' sales

Shop abroad for the exotic look, says Alexandra Campbell

Letter: Prophetic calls for ritual sacrifice

Sir: Contrary to the assertion of P J Stewart (Letters, 3 May), there is plenty of "theological justification" for Muslims to sacrifice sheep at the time of the haj, whether in Mecca or elsewhere.

Family moved to be safer

Nabatiyeh - Hassan al-Abed moved his wife, new-born daughter, Noor, and their six other children to a safer house at this front-line south Lebanon village on Wednesday before setting off on the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.

`We called the lamps Ayatollahs: the lighting director looked like one'

Charlie Paton is developing a greenhouse that desalinates sea water, but he got his start inventing a robotic lighting system for plays, television and rock concerts, which he sold in 1987 for pounds 1m

Keep God out of the classrooms

Nearer and nearer draws the time when Muslim parents will have the same rights to send their children to state schools of their own religious persuasion. This week, the Funding Agency for Schools inspected the Islamia School in north London, and 20 others are going through the process this year. For how much longer can the agency refuse state status? It seems to be fast running out of excuses. Islamia and several others top their local league tables, so they pass at least a narrowly defined quality threshold, one of the criteria for gaining state funding. With a waiting list of a thousand, it can hardly be argued that there is insufficient "demand". Eventually, a high proportion of Britain's 400,000 Muslim children could end up isolated in sectarian schools.
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Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
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'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
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A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
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His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
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Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
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How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam