The World

10 ESSENTIAL STORIES

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The Somali militant group Hizbul Islam seized a pirate stronghold in the coastal town of Haradhere, claiming it would rid the area of piracy and liberate foreign ships and hostages. "We hope to curb the dirty business," head of operations Sheik Mohamed Abdi Aros said. Hizbul Islam plans to impose Shari'a law in the region, where prostitution and drug and alcohol abuse have long run rampant. As the Islamists pushed forward, pirates moved at least three hijacked ships farther out to sea, and a number of them reportedly fled town in luxury cars filled with big-screen TVs and other stolen commodities. Some analysts question whether Hizbul Islam's motives are more concerned with purity or power.

6 | Greece

PROTESTS TURN VIOLENT

Demonstrations against the government's proposed 30 billion euros ($39 billion) in budget cuts took a grisly turn on May 5 when protesters firebombed a bank, killing at least three people. Riot police armed with tear gas clashed with protesters throwing rocks, demonstrators tried to storm Parliament, and a general strike stopped trains and shuttered schools. The Greek government must push through the cuts to hold up its end of a deal struck with other euro-zone countries, which have agreed to a 110 billion--euro ($145 billion) bailout of the flailing economy.

7 | Belgium

Toward a Ban on Veils

The Belgian government may have recently collapsed, but that didn't stop its squabbling political factions from uniting against face veils. On April 29, the lower house of Parliament passed a ban that would prohibit women from wearing any clothing that fully or partly covers the face. If approved by the upper house, the ban will be the first of its kind in Europe. Those who violate the ban could be fined or face up to a week in jail.

8 | India

Mumbai Gunman Guilty

Ajmal Kasab, the only surviving gunman from November 2008's three-day siege of Mumbai, was found guilty May 3. The 22-year-old Pakistani was convicted of murder, conspiracy, terrorism and waging war against India for his part in the deaths of 166 people. Video footage and photographs clearly showed Kasab with a rifle in a busy train station. A sentence was expected to be handed down on May 6, and Kasab could face either life in prison or the death penalty.

9 | Thailand

Almost in Agreement

Antigovernment Red Shirt protesters accepted Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's five-point reconciliation plan, in which he promised to hold parliamentary elections. They vowed to continue their occupation of Bangkok, however, because the elections would not be held until Nov. 14--well after the scheduled September passage of the nation's budget and military reorganization. Weeks of negotiations are expected.

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"Severe" Violators of Religious Freedom

Saudi Arabia: A ban on all nonofficial religions

Iran: Detention, torture and executions based on faith

China: Egregious violations against Tibetan Buddhists and Uighur Muslims

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