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
Career Services

Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?