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.’

a stranger in paradise

Last week, 13-year-old child bride Sarah Cook embraced life in a Muslim culture. Here, Elizabeth Parker remembers the day she fell foul of Islamic law

OBITUARY: Professor Sir Edmund Happold

Ted Happold was an unusual figure in the construction world: an engineer's architect and an architect's engineer. "A world which sees art and engineering as divided is not seeing the world as a whole," he wrote.

Leading Article: Shifting sands in Saudi Arabia

It is impossible to understate the centrality of Saudi Arabia to the stability of the Middle East. So Western countries should be relieved at the temporary handover of power in Saudi Arabia to Crown Prince Abdullah. Given fears for the health of King Fahd and a possible succession crisis, the change spells stability. The Crown Prince has been number two in the government, and although thought to be more conservative than his half- brother he is expected to carry on with business as usual.

Popeye comes on too strong

Kuwait City (AFP) - The children's favourites, Tom and Jerry, and Popeye, are under attack from Islamists who have come up with their own Islamic version to combat the "devilish" influence of such cartoon capers.

Kashmiris lose contact with Britons' kidnappers

Kashmiri officials yesterday admitted that they have lost contact with the separatists holding hostage two Britons and three other Western tourists bringing negotiations for their release to a halt.

Schools forced to close for Eid

HEAD teachers in one of Britain's most racially tense areas are up in arms because their local authority has ordered them to close their schools for the Muslim festival of Eid.

Fear and loathing in Southall

The streets of a west London suburb were a 'Mecca' for British Asians, where communities co-existed peacefully. Now conflict between young Muslims and Sikhs is threatening to wreck relations. Yasmin Alibhai- Brown investigates

Libyans free to travel to Mecca

Libyans free to travel to Mecca

Dear Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson is to make a pilgrimage to Mecca with Muhammad Ali. A Muslim publisher and translator offers some words of advice to the convert

Our friends the Saudis

The Aitken affair could damage a long and profitable relationship. There is more than arms at stake. By Michael Sheridan

LETTER: Permission to lift Khomeini's `fatwa'

From Mr Hazhir Teimourian

Pitted against the best

THE MONDAY INTERVIEW Nicola Foulston

NUMBERS Today is the 24th of March.

Until 1752, when the year lost 11 days through transition from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, 24 March was the last day of the year in England.

Saudi Islamists plan protest vigil

Militant Islamic activists have issued an unprecedented call for co-ordinated demonstrations after weekly prayers today at mosques in the Saudi Arabian cities of Riyadh, Jeddah and Hail, in a challenge to the Saudi royal family. The call coincided with a visit to the kingdom by the US Defense Secretary, William Perry, on a one-week tour of the Gulf to bolster US "security strategy" .

Saudi rulers learn to live with fewer millions

Michael Sheridan, in the second of three articles on the kingdom, reports that change is harder to keep at bay when wealth is limited The rule of 6,000 princes is insured by prodigal generosity to their subjects
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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
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As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links