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the Big Picture

Category: middleeast

October 9, 2014 Permalink

We've moved!

Six years and 966 entries after this blog launched, it's time for some updates. We've got a new design. The pictures are bigger and you can enjoy them on your phones and tablets.

Check us out at our new home on But, don't worry! All our old entries will remain archived here on If you have any feedback on the changes, please let us know.

— The Big Picture team:

Bill Greene, Director of Photography
Thea Breite, Senior Multimedia Editor
Leanne Burden Seidel, Picture Editor
Lloyd Young, Photo Editor
Joel Abrams, Product Manager

September 22, 2014 Permalink

Syrian Kurdish refugees flooding into Turkey

At least 130,000 refugees have poured into Turkey over the past three days, escaping an Islamic State offensive in Syria. On Friday, Turkey reopened its border but forces fired tear gas and water cannon at hundreds of Kurdish protesters who accuse Ankara of favoring Islamic State against the Kurds. --Thea Breite (20 photos total)

Syrian refugees gather at the border in Suruc, Turkey, late Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014. (AP)
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July 25, 2014 Permalink

Conflict continues in Gaza

The conflict in the Mideast has intensified in the last month with turbulent fighting in Gaza strip. Over 800 Palestinians have been killed and over 5,000 injured, according to Palestinan health officials. World leaders have been working on a truce between Hamas and Israel to end the bloodshed. --Leanne Burden Seidel (36 photos total)

Smoke and flames are seen following what police said was an Israeli air strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip July 8. Israel bombarded dozens of targets in the Gaza Strip on, stepping up what it said might become a long-term offensive against Islamist Hamas after a surge in Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli towns. (Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters)
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June 23, 2014 Permalink

The crisis in Iraq: Thousands train to fight against militant Islamic State in Iraq and Syria

With the Iraqi military facing a huge crisis, tens of thousands of Iraqis answered the government's call for volunteers to fight the predominantly Sunni militants from the radical Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Newly-recruited volunteers are undergoing military training in various parts of the country. --Thea Breite (14 photos total)

Shi'ite volunteers, who have joined the Iraqi army to fight against the predominantly Sunni militants from the radical Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), stand at attention during military training in Najaf, June 22, 2014. (Alaa Al-Marjani/Reuters)
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June 18, 2014 Permalink

Iraq unrest

The fighting continued in Iraq today near a main oil refinery, with government forces trying to stop a week-long attack from members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and others. The Iraqi foreign minister has asked the United States for air strikes against the Sunni militants' positions but President Obama, in a meeting with leaders of Congress today, said he wanted for now to focus on training Iraq's security forces and providing equipment. Thousand of displaced civilians have been looking for shelter since the the attacks began. --Lloyd Young (25 photos total)

An image downloaded on June 11 from the jihadist website Welayat Salahuddin shows militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) waving the trademark Islamists flag after they allegedly seized an Iraqi army checkpoint in the northern Iraqi province of Salahuddin. Jihadists are pushing toward Baghdad on June 12 after capturing a town just hours to the north, as the US mulled air strikes in a bid to bolster Iraq's collapsing security forces. (AFP/Getty Images)
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June 9, 2014 Permalink

2014 World Cup: Goalposts around the world

All you need is a ball and something to kick it in. Around the world, goalposts are made from metal, wood, plastic, sticks, tape, or paint on a wall. Reuters photographers captured images of goalposts on every continent as the world gets ready to watch the 2014 Brazil World Cup, which opens on June 12. --Thea Breite (20 photos total)

Kathmandu, Nepal. May 31, 2014. (Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters)
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June 2, 2014 Permalink

Iran: 25 years after the death of Ayatollah Khomeini

This week Shiraz observes the 25th anniversary of the death and continued legacy of the Ayatollah Khomeini, the father of the Islamic revolution. Getty Images photographer John Moore spent time photographing in the heart of central Iran. --Thea Breite (19 photos total)

A scarecrow stands vigil over a backyard garden, as does a photo of Iran's current supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Kamenei on June 1, 2014 in Narin, in central Iran. Narin, known for its mud brick architecture and handicrafts, has been a prominent stop on trade routes since the Sassanid era. (John Moore/Getty Images)
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May 5, 2014 Permalink

Afghanistan landslide: Rescuers give up hope of survivors

2,100 people are thought to be buried by the landslides that hit a remote area in northern Afghanistan. Officials say the site has become a mass grave for the village of Abi Barak. After the landslide struck on Friday, residents from a nearby village rushed to the scene to help dig people out and the second landslide struck, killing many of the rescuers. Rescue efforts on now focused on the displaced survivors. --Thea Breite (18 photos total)

An aerial view shows the site of Friday's landslide that buried Abi Barak village in Badakhshan province, northeastern Afghanistan, Monday, May 5, 2014. (Rahmat Gul/AP)
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March 31, 2014 Permalink

The upcoming 2014 Afghan election

Afghans will head to the polls on Saturday April 5 to choose a successor to President Hamid Karzai and to decide the make-up of 34 provincial councils in elections seen as a benchmark of progress since the Taliban were ousted from power in 2001. --Thea Breite (14 photos total)

Presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah arrives for an election campaign in Panjshir Province March 31, 2014. (Ahmad Masood/Reuters)
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January 27, 2014 Permalink

Syria: Negotiators talk and people still suffer

While negotiators from all sides hold difficult talks in Geneva, the violence continues for the Syrian people The Syrian government said women and children could leave the besieged city and that rebels should hand over the names of the men who would remain. A U.S. State Department spokesman said an evacuation was not an alternative to immediate aid." --Thea Breite (16 photos total)

A child clears damage and debris in the besieged area of Homs January 26, 2014. (Thaer Al Khalidiya/Reuters)
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January 13, 2014 Permalink

Muslims around the world celebrate the birth of Mohammed

Muslims around the world celebrate the birth of the Islamic Prophet Muhammed, who was born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia in 570 AD. His birthday is marked in many ways in different Muslim nations. --Thea Breite (16 photos total)

An illuminated mosque on the eve of the Eid-Milad-ul-Nabi, the birthday of Prophet Mohammad, in Karachi, Pakistan, January 13, 2014. Eid-Milad-ul-Nabi, is celebrated all over the world every year with traditional festivity and religious fervor. (Shahzaib Akber/EPA)
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December 23, 2013 Permalink

December around the world

A snowstorm in the Middle East, 95 degree temperatures in Buenos Aires, flooding in Gaza, ice storms in Canada. It’s a typical December around the world. Or is it? --Thea Breite (17 photos total)

Eve Grayson, a Reindeer herder of the Cairgorm Reindeer Herd, feeds the deer on December 23, 2013 in Aviemore, Scotland. Reindeer were introduced to Scotland in 1952 by Swedish Sami Reindeer herder, Mikel Utsi. Starting with just a few reindeer, the herd has now grown in numbers over the years and is currently at about 130 by controlling the breeding. (Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images)
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November 4, 2013 Permalink

Egypt: Morsi trial adjourned

Deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was in court in Cairo facing charges of inciting the murder of protesters. It was the first time since his removal from office on July 3rd to be seen in public. Morsi, speaking from a defendant's cage, refused to recognize the legitimacy of the court. Thousands rallied outside the court in Cairo and demonstrations took place in other locations in Egypt. The trial was adjourned until Jan. 8. --Thea Breite ( 27 photos )

A supporter of the Egyptian Army and Army chief General Abel Fattah al-Sissi shows a poster depicting him during a protest outside the high court on the first day of Morsi's trial on November 4, 2013 in Cairo. (Mahmoud Khaled Mahmoud/AFP/Getty Images)
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September 17, 2013 Permalink

Syrian conflict continues

As the world waits to see how the diplomatic agreement plays out, Syrians struggle as the civil war continues. After the chemical attack, fighting among the destroyed cities persists as civilians flee the country. More than 100,000 people have died and millions displaced. -Leanne Burden Seidel ( 23 photos total)

A man looks at smoke rising into the sky from what activists said was Free Syrian Army fighters destroying a tank that belonged to forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the Qaboun area, eastern Ghouta, September 15. (Bassam Khabieh/Reuters)
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August 23, 2013 Permalink

Assault in Syria

Horrific images were taken this week of an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria. Rows of bodies, including many children, fill rooms and streets in the eastern suburbs of Damascus, and Syrian activists are reporting hundreds of people killed. The Syrian government denies the use of chemical weapons, and an investigation continues. The civil war persists as forces continued fighting and droves fled the country. (WARNING: Images are graphic)( 25 photos total)

A man holds the body of a dead child among bodies of people activists say were killed by nerve gas in the Ghouta region, in the Duma neighbourhood of Damascus August 21, 2013. (Bassam Khabieh/Reuters)
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May 3, 2013 Permalink

Daily Life: April 2013

I look forward each month to browsing the compilation of "slice of life" images from around the world. They offer us a visual break, if you will, from the tragedies, disasters, wars and violence seemingly so pervasive in our world. Through these images, we can immerse ourselves in the simplicity of everyday life. Daily Life: April 2013 takes us to North and South Korea, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Spain, Indonesia, China, Russia; and around the United States to California, Texas, Maine, Florida, Kansas, Washington state, and more. Enjoy.--- Paula Nelson ( 49 photos total)

A village boy holds a traditional handmade umbrella as he keeps watch over cattle grazing in the field on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar, India, April 20, 2013. (Biswaranjan Rout/Associated Press)
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March 29, 2013 Permalink

Syria: A collection of images

The Associated Press recently re-transmitted a collection of images from the Syrian conflict. It remains an incredibly dangerous situation for working journalists who document the ongoing conflict and the conditions of those living in constant danger and with constant risk. Many continue to die for their beliefs, hoping that peace will come to their country eventually. The images that follow are storytelling, intimate and worth seeing again and again. -- Paula Nelson ( 32 photos total)

Syrian rebel fighters belonging to the Liwa Al Tawhid unit in the Karmal Jabl neighborhood after several days of intense clashes between rebel fighters and the Syrian army in Aleppo, Syria, Oct. 25, 2012. (Narciso Contreras/Associated Press)
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March 15, 2013 Permalink

One photographer's journey inside Iran

New Zealand photographer, Amos Chapple, made three visits to the Islamic Republic of Iran between December 2011 and January 2013. Chapple "was amazed by the difference in western perceptions of the country and what I saw on the ground…" He goes on to say that every traveller he met inside Iran had the same sense of surprise. The government continues its anti-western campaign, but Chapple explains what was once a popular sentiment has long since faded with Iranians. Chapple describes this as a "constant embarrassment for ordinary Iranians. In the time I spent there, I never received anything but goodwill and decency, which stands in clear contrast to my experience in other middle eastern countries." A sampling of Chapple's images are featured in this post. -- Paula Nelson (The captions were provided by the photographer. All images are copyrighted.)( 25 photos total)

Palangan Village, in the mountains near the Iraq border. Palangan, illustrative of many of the country's rural settlements, has benefitted handsomely from government support. Many villagers are employed in a nearby fish farm, or are paid members of the Basij, whose remit includes prevention of "westoxification", and the preservation of everything the 1979 islamic revolution and its leader the Ayatollah Khomeini stood for - including strict rules on female clothing and male/female interaction. (Amos Chapple)
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February 15, 2013 Permalink

2013 World Press Photo Contest Winners

For over 55 years, the World Press Photo contest has encouraged the highest standards in photojournalism. The contest is judged by leading experts in visual journalism who represent various aspects of the profession and the composition of the jury is changed from year to year. The prize-winning images are assembled into an exhibition that travels to 45 countries over the course of a year and over two million people go to a hundred different venues to see the images. The winners themselves uphold the foundation's simple mission statement: We exist to inspire understanding of the world through quality photojournalism. A sampling of the winning images follows. You can browse more amazing content on World Press Photo. -- Paula Nelson (NOTE: There will be no post on Monday in observance of the holiday.) ( 18 photos total)

World Press Photo of the Year 2012 - Paul Hansen/Sweeden/Dagens Nyheter - Nov. 20, 2012, Gaza City, Palestinian Territories. Two-year-old Suhaib Hijazi and her three-year-old brother Muhammad were killed when their house was destroyed by an Israeli missile strike. Their father, Fouad, was also killed and their mother was put in intensive care. Fouad’s brothers carry his children to the mosque for the burial ceremony as his body is carried behind on a stretcher.
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December 17, 2012 Permalink

2012 Year in Pictures: Part I

Another year has come and gone and with it hundreds of thousands of images have recorded the world's evolving history; moments in individual lives; the weather and it's affects on the planet; acts of humanity and tragedies brought by man and by nature. The following is a compilation - not meant to be comprehensive in any way - of images from the first 4 months of 2012. Parts II and III to follow this week. -- Paula Nelson ( 64 photos total)

Fireworks light up the skyline and Big Ben just after midnight, January 1, 2012 in London, England. Thousands of people lined the banks of the River Thames in central London to ring in the New Year with a spectacular fireworks display. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
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November 19, 2012 Permalink

Israel - Gaza conflict

Israeli airstrikes began November 14, following months of Palestinian rocket fire into Israel. Monday, the top leader of Hamas dared Israel to launch a ground invasion of Gaza and dismissed diplomatic efforts to broker a cease-fire in the six-day-old conflict, as the Israeli military conducted a new wave of deadly airstrikes which included a second hit on a 15-story building that houses media outlets. What follows is just a small collection of images from the last few days of the conflict. – Paula Nelson ( 34 photos total)

A Palestinian firefighter tries to extinguish a fire after an Israeli air strike, on a floor in a building that also houses international media offices in Gaza City, November 19, 2012. (Suhaib Salem/Reuters)
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November 9, 2012 Permalink

Daily Life: October 2012

Collecting and editing images that document simple elements of daily life around the world is actually one of my favorite things in preparing a Big Picture post. The images have an element of universality, yet are often very unique. It's one of the many wonderful things about strong photography. We become armchair travelers, experiencing simple things in far flung locations through the imagery that is sent out from agencies around the world. In this post we visit places like China, Thailand, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Spain, Nepal, India, Lisbon, Scotland, Indonesia and Signal Mountain, Tennessee. -- Paula Nelson ( 56 photos total)

A full moon rises behind a statue of a bull overlooking the former stockyard district, Oct. 29, 2012, Kansas City, Mo. (Charlie RiedelAssociated Press)
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November 5, 2012 Permalink

Syria conflict intensifies - photos of civil war fighting in Damascus and Aleppo

In a conflict dragging on into its twentieth violent month, today was an especially deadly day in Syria, where rebels are fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad. A pair of car bombs exploded, one in Hama and one in Damascus, and both sides claimed wildly different casualty totals. Intense shelling of rebel positions served as counterpoint. But even an especially deadly day here makes it just one of many in the conflict that has claimed as many as 35,000 victims since it began with street protests on March 15, 2011. Over a quarter of a million refugees have fled to Syria's neighbors, and the UN puts the number of internally displaced at over a million. Gathered here are images from the last month in the Mediterranean country of 22 million. -- Lane Turner (37 photos total)

A rebel fighter signals victory after he fires a shoulder-fired missile toward a building where Syrian troops loyal to President Bashar Assad were hiding while they attempt to gain terrain against the rebels during heavy clashes in the Jedida district of Aleppo, Syria on November 4, 2012.. The uprising against Assad started with peaceful demonstrations in March last year, but has since morphed into a bloody civil war. Activists say more than 36,000 people have been killed in 19 months of fighting. (Narciso Contreras/Associated Press)
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October 26, 2012 Permalink

In preparation for Eid al-Adha

Eid al-Adha also called Feast of the Sacrifice, is an important 3-day religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide to honor the willingness of the prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his young first-born son Ismail (Ishmael) a as an act of submission to God and his son's acceptance of the sacrifice, before God intervened to provide Abraham with a ram to sacrifice instead. The 3 days and 2 nights of Eid al-Adha are celebrated annually on the 10th, 11th and 12th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the twelfth and last month of the lunar Islamic calendar. Eid begins today. -- Paula Nelson ( 32 photos total)

A livestock market ahead of the sacrificial Eid al-Adha festival in Karachi, Oct. 24, 2012. Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice, honors Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael on the order of God, who according to tradition then provided a lamb in the boy's place. (Asif Hassan/AFP/Getty Images)
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August 13, 2012 Permalink

Iran earthquakes

Twin earthquakes hit northwest Iran near the Azerbaijan border, injuring thousands and killing over 300. Simple mud brick homes in the sparsely populated region collapsed quickly in the quakes, the larger of which measured 6.4 on the Richter Scale. Iran sits on several active fault lines and experiences earthquakes regularly. With western media hindered by restrictions in Iran, many of the images presented here are by Iranian news services, including the Iranian Students' News Agency. Images are presented as transmitted to Reuters and GettyImages. -- Lane Turner (21 photos total)

Residents and rescue workers search for the survivors in the rubble of a house near Varzaqan, after twin earthquakes hit northwestern Iran on August 11, 2012. (Farshid Tighehsaz/ISNA/AFP/GettyImages)
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August 10, 2012 Permalink

Daily Life: July 2012

Each month we feature a post on the Big Picture that gives us a glimpse of daily life in the United States and in many, many countries across the world. For July, we represent a little bit of living from Malaysia, Haiti, Guatemala, UAE, Nepal, Sudan, Serbia, Cuba, China, Japan, Pakistan and India (and a few more I've probably missed.) Enjoy our look at the world. -- Paula Nelson (51 photos total)

Chinese girls take pictures with their mobile phones outside a cinema near a bird cage decoration at a shopping mall in Beijing, China, July 29, 2012. (Andy Wong/Associated Press)
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July 30, 2012 Permalink

Battle for Aleppo intensifies Syrian conflict

With 200,000 fleeing Aleppo, fighting in Syria intensified in the 16-month long struggle opposing the rule of Bashar al-Assad. While fighting still grips Homs after a brutal siege, the conflict has moved north to finally include commercial hub Aleppo - largely spared until now - a city of over two million. Both the Syrian army and the rebel Free Syrian Army claim advances in the battle for Aleppo, which began in earnest over the weekend. More pockets of conflict rage in other locations within Syria as well. Gathered here are images made available in the last week from Syria, where independent news coverage has been limited and difficult. Some of the images are from third parties and transmitted without confirmation via international wire services as they were received. -- Lane Turner (32 photos total)

A portrait of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad burns during clashes between rebels and Syrian troops in Selehattin, near Aleppo, on July 23, 2012. (Bulent Kilic/AFP/GettyImages)
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February 10, 2012 Permalink

2012 World Press Photo Contest Winners

By the numbers: 5, 247 Photographers, 124 Nationalities, 101, 254 pictures. Three hundred and fifty images by 57 photographers of 24 nationalities were awarded prizes in nine categories. To view the entire collection of winning images from the 55th World Press Photo Contest: 2012 World Press Photo. -- Paula Nelson (16 photos total)

2012 World Press Photo of the Year: A woman holds a wounded relative during protests against President Saleh in Sanaa, Yemen, Oct. 15, 2011. (Samuel Aranda/The New York Times)
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February 8, 2012 Permalink

Syria fighting continues

A European Union official said today harsher sanctions may be imposed on Syria as the 11-month-old uprising against the country’s regime led by President Bashar al-Assad continues even as Russia now tries to promote talks between the two sides. The United Nations has reported that more than 5,000 people have been killed since the conflict began. Hundreds have been reported killed since this past weekend in the city of Homs alone. Collected here are images from the last few days from inside the country. -- Lloyd Young (Editor’s note: Due to the exclusion of news organizations, which limits images coming from Syria, many of the images available to the public are handout images provided to the wire service agencies.) (24 photos total)

A Syrian rebel fighter aims during an exchange of fire with army troops, unseen. in Idlib, Syria on Feb. 8. The European Union will impose harsher sanctions on Syria, a senior EU official said Wednesday, as Russia tried to broker talks between the vice president and the opposition to calm violence. Activists reported at least 50 killed in the regime's siege of the restive city of Homs. (Associated Press)
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February 6, 2012 Permalink

Egypt: protests over Port Said soccer deaths

Violence at a soccer match triggered intensified political protests in Egypt raging now into their fifth day. A match on February 1, 2012 in Port Said, Egypt between rival clubs Al-Masry of Port Said and visiting Al-Ahly of Cairo ended with home supporters charging onto the pitch and chasing visiting fans. That confrontation turned bloody when the visiting fans were unable to get out of the stadium, and 74 died from attacks and from injuries sustained in a panicked stampede. Al-Ahly's fans had played a prominent role in defending protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square that eventually toppled leader Hosni Mubarak, and for this reason opponents of Egypt's military rulers assert that police at the stadium allowed the violence to happen, or even encouraged it. Protests continue to grow over the lack of police protection for the fans after three official days of mourning for the victims. Gathered here are photographs of the initial confrontation between fans and the resulting protests from the past several days. -- Lane Turner (25 photos total)

Protests near Egypt's Interior Ministry continued on February 3, 2012 in Cairo, Egypt with at least four people killed amid anger over the deaths of 74 football fans that were killed in clashes between rival fans in Port Said, Egypt. Three-days of mourning were announced and marches were scheduled to protest at the lack of protection provided by police who were at the stadium when the violence occurred. (Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
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January 25, 2012 Permalink

Egyptians gather in Tahrir Square to mark anniversary of uprising

A massive demonstration of Egyptians gathered in Tahrir Square in Cairo today to mark the anniversary of the uprising that eventually led to the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak. Political divides are still in force with liberals and Islamists differing on their visions for the future of the country. Mubarak is now on trial for complicity in the deaths of protesters. The uprising in Egypt last year was one of the initial protests of what is called the Arab Spring, which has included the slaying of Libyan leader Moammar Khadafy and the ongoing protests in Syria. -- Lloyd Young (31 photos total)

Egyptians gather in their thousands in Tahrir Square to mark the one year anniversary of the revolution on Jan. 25, 2012 in Cairo Egypt. Tens of thousands have gathered in the square on the first anniversary of the Arab uprising which toppled President Hosni Mubarak. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
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December 30, 2011 Permalink

Scenes from Iraq

As 2011 ends, Iraqis confront their challenges with neither the presence of US troops, nor the shadow of Saddam Hussein, who was executed five years ago today. He had ruled since 1979, although he'd been a power player in the government since 1968. The American occupation ended officially on December 15, eight years after the 2003 invasion. Sectarian strife still plagues Iraq, and although the violence lessened from near-civil war levels in 2006, the pullout of American forces has seen a return of hostilities. While the number of American casualties of the occupation stands at 4,487, figures for Iraqi casualties have no such certainty. Some estimates put the figure as high as 100,000. Now conflicts new and old wait to be dealt with by a country free to decide its own fate for the first time in generations. Sectarian struggle, problems with water and electricity delivery, and war-ravaged infrastructure are just a few of the issues facing Iraqis today. Gathered here are recent images of Iraq as it looks ahead to 2012. The last four images are portraits by Reuters photographer Shannon Stapleton, who asked ordinary Iraqis for their thoughts on their future after the pullout of American forces. -- Lane Turner (36 photos total)

A man smokes a water pipe at a cafe on Mutanabi Street in Baghdad on December 9, 2011. (Thaier al-Sudani/Reuters)
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December 21, 2011 Permalink

The year in Pictures: Part II

The second collection of images from 2011 once again brought us nature at its full force with floods, drought, wild fires, tornadoes and spectacular images of volcanic eruptions. The death of Osama bin Laden, the attack on an island in Norway by a lone gunman, continued fighting in Libya, and protests around the globe were a few of the news events dominating the headlines. -- Lloyd Young Please see part 1 from Monday and watch for part 3 Friday. (45 photos total)

A cloud of ash billowing from Puyehue volcano near Osorno in southern Chile, 870 km south of Santiago, on June 5. Puyehue volcano erupted for the first time in half a century on June 4, 2011, prompting evacuations for 3,500 people as it sent a cloud of ash that reached Argentina. The National Service of Geology and Mining said the explosion that sparked the eruption also produced a column of gas 10 kilometers (six miles) high, hours after warning of strong seismic activity in the area. (Claudio Santana/AFP/Getty Images) )
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November 30, 2011 Permalink

Taking the vote: elections in Egypt and the Democratic Republic of Congo

Hours after violent clashes between masses of protesters and police, Egyptians swarmed the polls early this week for the beginning rounds of parliamentary elections. They are the first elections since a prodemocracy uprising ousted longtime president Hosni Mubarak from office earlier this year. The poll stations have been remarkably peaceful, despite the simmering anger over the military’s extended role in running the government. In contrast, the Democratic Republic of Congo's presidential and legislative elections this week were beset by fraud, some observers say. In one town, rebel fighters attacked a polling place, killing at least five people and burning ballots. The voting was Congo's second since the end of the country's last war and the first organized by the government rather than the international community. -- Lloyd Young (30 photos total)

A man waits outside a polling station to cast his vote during parliamentary elections in Cairo Nov. 28. (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters)
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November 22, 2011 Permalink

Libya: Post-Khadafy

It's been just over a month since the capture and death of Libyan dictator Moammar Khadafy, ending his 42-year reign. Since then, the rebels have declared that the nation is liberated, installed a transitional government, and started the process of writing a constitution. Still, substantial problems remain. Pockets of fighting have erupted among rival tribes and some rebels have refused to give up their cache of weapons. Doctors continue to struggle to treat the wounded and sick, with a few of the most severely injured being sent to rehabilitation centers in Boston and elsewhere. Last weekend, Khadafy’s son, Seif, was captured and could face war crimes for his part in the conflict. -- Lloyd Young (EDITOR'S NOTE: We will not post a Big Picture on Friday, November 25, due to the Thanksgiving Holiday.) (40 photos total)

Anti-Khadafy fighters acknowledge the crowd during a review of the brigades from the eastern region to commemorate the liberation of Quiche in Benghazi Oct. 27. (Esam Al-Fetori/Reuters)
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November 21, 2011 Permalink

Egypt erupts with fresh protests

Protesters unhappy with the pace of change and the continued military rule in Egypt flooded Cairo's Tahrir Square over the weekend demanding civilian rule. Riot police responded with tear gas, beatings, and live ammunition, leaving at least 20 dead in continuing clashes. Egypt holds parliamentary elections next week, and demonstrators want presidential elections to be held shortly afterward. The ruling military has proposed to delay those elections until late 2012 or even 2013, angering Egyptians frustrated with the military's role in government. Collected here are images of the struggle over the weekend. -- Lane Turner (24 photos total)

Protesters run from tear gas fired by riot police in a side street near Tahrir Square in Cairo November 21, 2011. (Goran Tomasevic/Reuters)
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November 7, 2011 Permalink

The Hajj and Eid al-Adha

The Hajj pilgrimage draws millions of Muslims from around the world every year to Mecca, the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad, Islam's holiest place. Saudi Arabia expects to host perhaps three million people in a ritual journey that every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it must make at least once in their lifetime. It is the largest annual gathering of humanity anywhere. Timed to the Muslim lunar calendar, the Hajj is followed by the celebrations of the three-day festival of Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice, which symbolizes Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son. Collected here are photographs of the Hajj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, as well as images of preparations for the Hajj and Eid al-Adha in many other parts of the Muslim world. -- Lane Turner (42 photos total)

A Muslim pilgrim prays as visits the Hiraa cave at the top of Noor Mountain on the outskirts of Mecca, Saudi Arabia on November 2, 2011. According to tradition, Islam's Prophet Mohammed received his first message to preach Islam while he was praying in the cave. (Hassan Ammar/AP)
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October 21, 2011 Permalink

Sukkot: A celebration

Sukkot, or Feast of Tabernacles, is a Biblical holiday celebrated in late September to late October. The holiday lasts seven days. The Sukkah is a walled structure covered with plant material - built for the celebration - and is intended to be a reminiscence of the type of dwelling in which the Israelites stayed during their 40 years of travel in the desert after the exodus from slavery in Egypt. Throughout the holiday, meals are eaten inside the Sukkah and many sleep there as well. On each day of the holiday, members of the household recite a blessing over the lulav and etrog (four species). The four species include the lulav (a ripe green, closed frond from a date palm tree), the hadass (boughs with leaves from the myrtle tree), the aravah (branches with leaves from the willow tree) and the etrog (the fruit of a citron tree.) -- Paula Nelson (29 photos total)

An Ultra-Orthodox Jewish child walks over palm fronds to be used to build a Sukkah hut, in Jerusalem's religious Mea Shearim neighborhood, Oct. 6, 2011. The palm branches are used as the roof of a temporary house called a "Sukkah" which is built and lived in during the week-long Jewish holiday of Sukkot. (Bernat Armangue/Associated Press)
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October 19, 2011 Permalink

The transfer of prisoners: Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit is returned home in exchange for some 1,000 Palestinian prisoners

After being held captive by the Palestinian group Hamas for five years, Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit returned to his home in Mitzpe Hila, northern Israel. As his family and friends were celebrating his freedom, 477 of an eventual 1,027 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons were released to mass celebrations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, part of the deal with Hamas. Schalit, a tank crewman who is now 25, was captured in June of 2006 near the Gaza border. -- Lloyd Young (19 photos total)

Israeli Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Benny Gantz embraced released Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) and Defense Minister Ehud Barak also greeted him at Tel Nof Airbase on Oct. 18. Looking thin, weary, and dazed, Schalit returned home after more than five years of captivity in the Gaza Strip in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners whose joyful families greeted them with massive celebrations. (Israeli Government Press Office/Associated Press)
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October 14, 2011 Permalink

A simple day in the life...

Often in the Big Picture we feature "slice of life" photography originating from around the world, brought to us by photographers based in those countries who work for the Associated Press, Reuters and Getty Images. The photographs are often simple and show daily life in many places that we might not be able to experience in any other way except through those photographers' documentation. The images themselves are somewhat universal - they show us where people live and how people live, sometimes not so differently than we do ourselves. -- Paula Nelson (35 photos total)

Three-year-old Nadia Nassrallah eats her breakfast in from of her home in a slum on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, Oct. 4, 2011. (Muhammed Muheisen/Associated Press)
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September 30, 2011 Permalink

Global protests

There are many forms of protest, many ways to express an objection to particular events, situations, policies, and even people.  Protests can also take many forms - from individual statements to mass demonstrations - both peaceful and violent. In the last 30 days, there have been numerous protests across the globe in many countries.  The following post is a collection of only some of those protests, but the images convey a gamut of emotions as citizens stand up for their political, economic, religious and lifestyle rights.  -- Paula Nelson (51 photos total)

As protesters sleep in Zuccotti Park, N.Y. police officers receive instructions. A group of activists calling themselves Occupy Wall Street targeted the Financial District for more than a week of demonstrations in late September. The group said they sought to bring attention to corporate malfeasance, social inequality, and the yawning gap in income between America's rich and poor. (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)
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September 23, 2011 Permalink

Afghanistan, September 2011

Tribal elders say the Taliban are far from defeated.  The Taliban continue to wage a brutal war, taking a toll on Afghan citizens and American forces.  The Department of Defense has identified 1,761 American service members who have died in the Afghan war and related operations as of Sept. 21, about 10 years since the start of the war. In visiting Afghanistan monthly in The Big Picture, we try to reflect our troops presence in the country as well as their interaction with the Afghan people.  -- Paula Nelson (54 photos total)

US soldiers from the 27th Infantry Regiment fire 120-mm mortar rounds toward insurgent positions at Outpost Monti in Kunar province on Sept. 17. After a decade of fighting in Afghanistan, 130,000 troops from dozens of countries continue to battle resilient Taliban, who use homemade bombs and guerrilla tactics in a bid to undermine the Afghan government and the NATO mission. (Tauseef Mustafa/AFP/Getty Images)
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September 2, 2011 Permalink

Libya: Khadafy family life revealed in the aftermath

Algeria said this week that it had allowed a two-vehicle caravan of Col. Muammar Khadafi's relatives, including his second wife and three of his children, into the country. The flight of his relatives provides new evidence of surrender by the Khadafi clan as rebels tighten their hold on Tripoli, the capital. Khadafi's wife, Safiya, daughter Aisha and two of his sons, Mohammed and Hannibal, all crossed into Algeria. The spouses of Khadafi's children and their children arrived as well. This post gives us a glimpse of how those family members lived while in power in Libya. The value of these images isn't in their artistry or aesthetic, but in their storytelling information as we seek to uncover more behind the scenes of the Khadafi regime that spanned forty-two years. --Paula Nelson (NOTE: Monday is a holiday. See you again on Wednesday.)(31 photos total)

As rebels, looters, and simply the curious rifled through what's left of the estates of Moammar Khadafy and his sons, most were struck by the rather mundane furnishings and peculiar habits they accumulated. In Hannibal Khadafy's home, a torn image of the son was discovered. (Zohra Bensemra/Reuters)
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August 26, 2011 Permalink

Libya: The fight continues

Of the six days since the revolt reached the capital of Tripoli, August 25th may have been the bloodiest yet. Evidence of fresh massacres by both sides around the city were reported, while the battle to establish full control of Colonel Khadafy's breached compound, Bab al-Aziziya, raged on. In their drive to take command of Tripoli, the rebels concentrated their forces on a block-by-block battle for the streets of the Abu Salim neighborhood, a center of Colonel Khadafy's support. By late afternoon, the fighting had once again swamped Tripoli Central Hospital with wounded civilians and combatants. Khadafy has not been found and the battle continues. --Paula Nelson (26 photos total)

Rebel fighters return from the battle against fighters loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Khadafy in the neighborhood of Abu Salim in the south of the capital Tripoli. Hardened fighters streamed into Tripoli as Libya's rebels sought to deliver a knockout punch to Kadhafi's diehards and to flush out the elusive strongman, dead or alive. (Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images)
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May 27, 2011 Permalink

Obama: Six days, four nations

US President Barack Obama began a six-day, four-nation tour (Ireland, England, France, and Poland) May 22, 2011. His 24-hour visit to Ireland included dropping by rural Moneygall, where his great-great-great-grandfather Fulmouth Kearney lived before immigrating to the United States in 1850. The second stop on Mr. Obama’s itinerary? London, for a visit with the Queen, where he was honored with a State Dinner at Buckingham Palace and gave an address to both houses of Parliament. Mr. Obama’s next stop: a meeting of the Group of 8 world powers in Deauville, France. The leaders discussed how the West could help Egypt, Tunisia and other Arab states in political transition. On the last stop: Mr. Obama visited Poland. Last year he was forced to cancel (to attend the funeral of Poland's president) when the ash cloud from an Icelandic volcano restricted air space and travel. Ironically, a new volcanic eruption forced alterations of his itinerary again this year. -- Paula Nelson (Editor's note: We will not post on May 30, 2011, Memorial Day. See you again on June 1.) (55 photos total)

US President Barack Obama is greeted by a well wisher in College Green, May 23, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. Obama visited Ireland for one day. Earlier he met with Irish President Mary McAleese, Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland, Enda Kenny, and visited his ancestral home in Moneygall, County Offaly. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
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May 2, 2011 Permalink

Osama bin Laden killed

Osama bin Laden is dead. He was 54. The leader of the Al Qaeda terrorist network had eluded capture for a decade since the attacks on September 11, 2001. U.S. forces and CIA operatives killed him in a firefight in his hideout compound in the city of Abbotabad, Pakistan. He was buried at sea. -- Lane Turner (27 photos total)

In this Dec. 24, 1998, file photo, Muslim militant and Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden speaks to a selected group of reporters in the mountains of Helmand province in Afghanistan. (Rahimullah Yousafzai/AP)
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April 21, 2011 Permalink

Photojournalist Chris Hondros: At Work in Misurata, Libya

Getty Images Photographer Chris Hondros, 41, was mortally wounded Wednesday in Misurata, Libya, not long after filing intimate, striking images of the fighting between rebel and government forces. Tim Hetherington, the director and producer of the documentary "Restrepo," was killed in the same attack. While Hetherington's photos were not available to us, we honor both his and Hondros' intense commitment to creating inspiring, touching, storytelling images with this post. The images that follow were made by Hondros in Misurata, Libya, the last three days of his life. Hondros and Hetherington will be missed by colleagues and millions worldwide who have been impacted through simply seeing their work. -- Paula Nelson (39 photos total)

Oscar-nominated British film director and photographer Tim Hetherington (L) climbs from a building in Misurata on April 20, 2011. Getty Images photographer Chris Hondros walks in Misurata on April 18, 2011. Both men, 41, were killed and two other Western journalists were wounded in a mortar attack on April 20, 2011, in the western port city of Misurata. Hetherington and Hondros were the second and third journalists killed in Libya during the two-month-old war between rebels seeking to overthrow Moammar Gaddafi and forces loyal to the strongman, who has ruled for 41 years. (Phil Moore/AFP/Getty Images)
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April 15, 2011 Permalink

Yemen: Months of unrest and turmoil

Yemen is a poor, deeply divided country in turmoil since January 2011, when mass demonstrations called for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to resign. Saleh has been in power since 1978. Demonstrations have continued for months and Saleh's support has crumbled as some army commanders and tribal leaders have called for his ouster. On April 7, an organization of oil-rich Persian Gulf states joined the increasing number of international voices calling for a transfer of presidential powers. Protests and deadly clashes continue daily with security forces and rival military factions allied with the government and the rebels. More than 100 protestors have died since the turmoil began. -- Paula Nelson (28 photos total)

Anti-government protestors display their hands and arms while chanting slogans during a demonstration demanding the resignation of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in Sanaa, Yemen. Yemeni security forces clashed with thousands of protesters who hurled rocks and burned tires in the southern port city of Aden, killing at least one person as demonstrations swelled in the capital. Arabic reads: " Leave". April 13, 2011 (Muhammed Muheisen/Associated Press)
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March 30, 2011 Permalink

Faces of the displaced

For more than a month, refugees have been fleeing the violence and uncertainty of Libya into Tunisia. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees has reported nearly 180,000 people have fled -- a rate of 2,000 a day. Most end up at border transit camps, desperately trying to find a way home. Here are the faces of a few of them. -- Lloyd Young (39 photos total)

A Sudanese migrant fleeing the unrest in Libya holds her child as she walks at the Tunisian border crossing of Ras Jdir on March 2. (Zohra Bensemra/Reuters)(credit)
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February 25, 2011 Permalink

Libya: Unrest and uncertainty

As militiamen and mercenaries loyal to Moammar Khadafy ferociously strike back at rebels in and around the Libyan capital of Tripoli, much of the rest of the nation is embracing a bracing reality: After 41 years of ruthless and total control by Khadafy, they are suddenly free to rule themselves. In Benghazi, Libya's second-largest city and the cradle of the revolt, chants of jubilation are interspersed with quiet meetings. Neighborhood leaders are working to figure out such tasks as how to direct traffic and ensure utilities are up and running as they craft a plan for the future of the city. For guest workers and other expatriates, the future is no longer Libya. By the tens of thousands, they have been attempting to flee the violence, massing at ports as they await ships, overrunning the main airport,, and crossing by any means possible into Tunisia. Here's a look at one day -- Thursday -- in the life of those parts of Libya under rebel control. -- Paula Nelson (33 photos total)

Exclamations of joy fill the air as residents of Benghazi find themselves in an unimaginable situation: Freed from Moammar Khadafy's rule for the first time in more than four decades. (Suhaib Salem/Reuters)
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February 11, 2011 Permalink

Egypt: the wait

For 17 days, tens of thousands of anti-government protesters gathered in Tahrir Square calling for the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, 30 years in power. They had been acting out of passion for their country and dedication for change. They had protested and waited for a response. The response came in an address from Mubarak to the country and his people. Mubarak would not step down. Then almost miraculously, on the eighteenth day of protests, Vice President Omar Suleiman made a very brief statement on state television. Mubarak had stepped down. The crowds erupted "Egypt is free!" "Egypt is free!" -- Paula Nelson (40 photos total)

Anti-government demonstrators wait for the announced address by President Hosni Mubarak at a coffee shop near Cairo's Tahrir Square on the 17th day of protests calling for the ousting of the embattled leader. (Marco Longari/AFP/Getty Images)
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February 2, 2011 Permalink

A harrowing, historic week in Egypt

They have been days of chants and chaos, bloodshed mixed with moments of breathtaking solidarity between the protesters and the soldiers sent to subdue them. The flame of social unrest that first flickered in Tunisia has spread to Egypt, culminating with the announcement Tuesday by President Hosni Mubarak that after three decades in power, he would not run for another term. The clashes left government buildings in ashes, stores ransacked, and an economy teetering. Cairo's international airport teemed with Americans and other foreigners trying to flee; Egypt's tourism industry froze. At Cairo's Liberation Square, Mubarak's announcement was met with jeers and calls for an immediate resignation. Pro-Mubarak forces struck back, attacking the protesters in waves. The country of 80 million, rich in history but bereft of personal freedoms, awaits the next stage. Collected here are images from the last week focusing inside Egypt. -- Lloyd Young (45 photos total)

President Hosni Mubarak, in a taped speech shown Tuesday night, announces he would not run for reelection. It's unclear whether a majority of Egyptians will support his staying in office until September, when elections are scheduled. The reaction on Liberation Square, where tens of thousands of protesters watch the speech, is unequivocal: The president must go now. (Chris Hondros/Getty Images)
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January 26, 2011 Permalink

Protest spreads in the Middle East

The issues in Tunisia, Lebanon, and Egypt differ, but yesterday anger boiled over in all three countries as grievances were brought to the streets. In Tunisia, where protests have already overthrown President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, continued demonstrations sought to depose his allies still in their positions. Meanwhile Tunisia's interim government has issued an international arrest warrant for the former president and members of his family. In Lebanon, Sunni supporters of ousted Prime Minister Saad Hariri took to the streets in a "day of rage", burning tires and blockading roads in Tripoli and Sidon. It was in Egypt where the most dramatic events unfolded as the largest protests in a generation rocked Cairo. Demonstrators, many inspired by events in Tunisia, called for an end to nearly 30 years of rule by President Hosni Mubarak. Collected here are photographs from all three countries. -- Lane Turner (34 photos total)

A protester carrying an Egyptian flag runs through clouds of tear gas at a demonstration in Cairo January 25, 2011. Thousands of anti-government protesters, some hurling rocks and climbing atop an armored police truck, clashed with riot police in the center of Cairo in a Tunisia-inspired demonstration to demand the end of Hosni Mubarak's nearly 30 years in power. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
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January 4, 2010 Permalink

Three days in Iran

Supporters of the opposition to Iran's current ruling regime continue to gather, speak out, and protest - despite the risks of imprisonment, injury or death, and the continued official restrictions on foreign media coverage. On December 21st, 2009, thousands of Iranians attended a funeral ceremony for Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, the spiritual father of Iran's reform movement, who had passed away at the age of 87. In the days following the funeral, mourners and protesters took to the streets defying an official ban on such memorial services. On the Muslim holy day of Ashoura, December 27th, protesters and riot police clashed in multiple locations in Tehran, leaving many injured and between 8 and 37 protesters killed, including the nephew of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi. Days later, on December 30th, the Iranian government organized its own protest - against the opposition - giving all civil servants the day off to attend, providing dozens of buses and free chocolate milk for demonstrators. Collected here are photos from the three days, most taken by anonymous photographers, acquired outside the country by press agencies who are restricted by the government ban. (33 photos total)

Two pro-reform Iranian women attend the funeral ceremony of Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, the spiritual father of Iran's reform movement, as they wear green headbands, the symbolic color of Iranian opposition, in the holy city of Qom, 125 km (78 mi) south of the capital Tehran, Iran on Monday, Dec. 21, 2009. Montazeri, who died Sunday at the age of 87, was a key figure in the 1979 Islamic Revolution who later accused his fellow clerical leaders of imposing dictatorship in the name of Islam. (AP Photo)
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June 22, 2009 Permalink

A troubled week in Iran

In the ten days since Iran's disputed presidential election, street demonstrations have taken place every day. Iranian citizens, supporters of opposition candidates, continue to take to the streets and document what they encounter there, despite explicit government bans, the danger of arrest (many hundreds placed in custody), or possible physical harm (at least 19 deaths so far). Iranian officials maintain their stance that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the undisputed winner, and have increased restrictions and pressure on opposition members, protesters, foreign media and communication networks as they work to regain control. President Barack Obama recently stated that the government of Iran should "recognize that the world is watching." Many of the photographs here were taken and transmitted at great risk in the past week, in the hopes that others would be able to see and bear witness. [ previously on Big Picture: 1, 2, 3 ] (38 photos total)

Supporters of Iran's presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi face off against riot police during a demonstration on June 20, 2009 in Tehran, Iran. Thousands of Iranians clashed with police as they defied an ultimatum from supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei calling for an end to protests over last week's disputed presidential election results. (Getty Images)
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June 17, 2009 Permalink

Israeli Settlements in the West Bank

Relations between the Israeli government and the Obama administration have become tense lately over the issue of growing Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Nearly 300,000 Israelis now live in such settlements, alongside some 2.5 million Palestinians. The tense disputes over the settlements touch on religious and historical claims, local and international laws, and, of course political disagreements. The settlements range in size and permanence from "wildcat" outposts made of plywood shacks to established cities of tens of thousands. The international community views over 100 of the settlements as illegal under international law. Despite calls from the U.S. for a complete freeze on expansion, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that, though Israel would not build any new settlements and would dismantle unauthorized outposts, it would still allow building within existing settlements to accommodate "natural growth." Collected here are some scenes from West Bank settlements over the past few months. (37 photos total)

A Palestinian worker walks through a construction site of a new housing project in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Maaleh Adumim, near Jerusalem, Sunday, June 7, 2009. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
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June 16, 2009 Permalink

Iran's continued election turmoil

After the relatively free (if sporadic) flow of news, tweets, video and photographs from Iran the past several days, today saw a tighter clampdown, with the government officially banning foreign media from covering rallies and taking further efforts to block online communications. Though photographs from inside Iran are now more rare, there are still a few available. Collected here are three mini-collections: images of reactions from Iranians abroad and the international community, images of pro-Ahmadinejad rallies from Iran (allowed under current restrictions), and several photos from continued rallies held today in support of reformist Mir Hossein Mousavi. (27 photos total)

London, England - Iranian protesters hold a demonstration outside the Iranian embassy in central London on June 16, 2009. (SHAUN CURRY/AFP/Getty Images)
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June 15, 2009 Permalink

Iran's Disputed Election

Following up from last Friday's entry about Iran's Presidential Election, Tehran and other cities have seen the largest street protests and rioting since the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Supporters of reform candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, upset at their announced loss and suspicions of voter fraud, took to the streets both peacefully and, in some cases, violently to vent their frustrations. Iranian security forces and hardline volunteer militia members responded with force and arrests, attempting to stamp out the protests - meanwhile, thousands of Iranians who were happy with the election outcome staged their own victory demonstrations. Mousavi himself has been encouraging peaceful demonstrations, and called for calm at a large demonstration today (held in defiance of an official ban), as Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has just called for an official inquiry into accusations of election irregularities. (Update: several photos of injuries from gunshots at today's rally added below) (38 photos total (plus 3))

A supporter of defeated Iranian presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi shouts slogans during riots in Tehran on June 13, 2009. Hardline incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared winner by a landslide in Iran's hotly-disputed presidential vote, triggering riots by opposition supporters and furious complaints of cheating from his defeated rivals. (OLIVIER LABAN-MATTEI/AFP/Getty Images)
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June 12, 2009 Permalink

Iran's Presidential Election

Iranians went to the voting booth today, Friday, June 12th, for their 10th presidential election since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Their decision today is largely whether to keep hard-line president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in power for four more years, or to replace him with a reformist more open to loosening the country's Islamic restrictions and improving ties with the United States. Ahmadinejad's leading opponent is Mir Hossein Mousavi, a former Prime Minister of Iran. Mousavi's campaign was propelled in recent weeks by young voters using high-tech campaign tactics (over 66% of Iranians are under the age of 30). Iran's presidential elections are tightly controlled, and, once elected, the office holder has limited power, but it remains the highest position determined by popular vote. Collected here are several photos from the past few weeks in Iran. (35 photos total)

A supporter of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad displays her hand painted with the Iranian flag, also used as a sign for his party, at his final election campaign rally, on Azadi street in western Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, June 10, 2009. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
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November 19, 2008 Permalink

Dubai and the UAE

Tomorrow will be the grand opening of the latest addition to the skyline of Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). The Atlantis Palm Resort, with over 1,500 rooms, will be hosting an opening ceremony with celebrities from around the world tomorrow night. The rapid development in Dubai and across the UAE hasn't all been easy lately, as infrastructure problems (handling rising levels of waste to match massive development), and world financial struggles have slowed progress. Wealthy Dubai continues to grow though, in both land area as new islands are built, and in height as new, taller skyscrapers are planned to best the Burj Dubai, already the tallest in the world. (28 photos total)

Camels are seen early morning on a beach in the Marina area of Dubai October 16, 2008. (REUTERS/Steve Crisp)
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October 29, 2008 Permalink

Storm-battered Yemen

Last weekend heavy storms crashed through Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the world. The wind, rain and lightning killed a number people initiallly, but the subsequent flooding took a much larger toll, in both lives and property. The hard-hit Hadramaut region is home to the ancient walled city of Shibam, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, nicknamed the "Manhattan of the desert". The structures in Shibam and neighboring villages are mud-brick construction, and were damaged badly by the rain and flooding, many collapsing when their foundations were undercut. The World Health Organization has estimated that 180 people have died, mostly in building collapses, though that number is likely to change as debris is cleared away. (22 photos total)

A file photo from April 2007 handed out by the Aga Khan Award for architecture shows the ancient city of Shibam, Yemen, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and and one of three major urban centres in Wadi Hadramaut. Heavy rains swept through Yemen's southeastern province of Hadramaut, which has now been declared a disaster zone, local officials said on October 24,2008. (ANNE DE HENNING/AFP/Getty Images)
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September 3, 2008 Permalink

Scenes from Iraq

Over five years since it began, the war in Iraq continues, but with some recent notable progress. On Monday this week, American forces formally returned responsibility for the security of Anbar Province, at one time, the center of the Sunni insurgency, to the Iraqi Army and police force. Violence in the region has decreased dramatically - attacks down by 90% over the past two years. The continuing relative peace and order in the region remains a fragile scenario, with many former insurgents now acting as police, or as gunmen allied with American-backed "Awakening Councils". Here are some scenes from around Iraq (and a couple from here in the U.S.) over the past several months. (28 photos total)

U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Matheew Lundeen (left) and Maj. Mark Thompson, both pilots from the 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, Mildenhall Air Base, England, walk around their C-17 Globemaster III aircraft while it is parked on the flight line at Sather Air Base, Iraq, during a dust storm on April 17, 2008. The dust storm reduced visibility to 100 meters and stopped all air traffic from landing at Sather Air Base. (Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey Allen, U.S. Air Force)
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June 18, 2008 Permalink

Daily Life in Sadr City, Iraq

North of downtown Baghdad, Iraq lies Sadr City and several other neighboring districts, predominantly shiite and impoverished. A recent lull in fighting between militias, and US and Iraqi armed forces has allowed security forces and aid supplies to return to the area. The truce remains tenuous, as a car bomb detonated yesterday in a crowded market, killing more than 50 Iraqis. Here are some images of daily life in and around Sadr City, Baghdad over the past several weeks. (16 photos total)

The hands of an Iraqi woman reaches for the sides of a truck in an effort to make herself noticed as Iraqi Army 42nd Brigade, 11th Division Soldiers distribute food, water, and medical supplies, in Sadr City, Baghdad, Iraq, on May 8, 2008, during Operation Iraqi Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Cohen A. Young)
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