Religion serves as the social bedrock of many communities around the globe, while also acting as a source of division and conflict. Pulitzer Center stories tagged with “Religion” feature reporting on faith, its effects on people’s lives, and the role it plays in civil society. Use the Pulitzer Center Lesson Builder to find and create lesson plans on religion.


China Unlikely to Loosen Its Grip in West (Photo by Ryan Anson)

By Jill Drew

Photo by Ryan Anson

Violent outbursts are continuing in the Xinjiang region of western China, with the latest resulting in the deaths of two policemen who were attacked Wednesday while searching a cornfield for a woman they believe is involved in a separatist cell.

State media reported Saturday morning that police found the alleged assailants and shot six of them dead after they tried to defend themselves with knives, wounding two security officials.

China: The Olympics and Checkpoints in China

Since the August 4th attack in Kashgar that killed 16 Chinese police officers, officials have intensified security measures all over Xinjiang Province. Militia and troops from the People's Liberation Army man checkpoints on all major roads in and out of Kashgar. Passengers in both private and public vehicles must disembark from their cars or buses, walk through the checkpoint, show their identity cards or passports which are all scanned electronically, and pass through another blockade of sandbags and gates before getting back on the road.

Kashgar, China: Business as Usual on the Silk Road

Kashgar's claim to fame is its spot on the Silk Road. Some of the first settlers built their clay homes along this major caravan route more than 2000 years ago. It is, and has been a major trading post connecting the Western world with Central Asia and the Far East even if carpets are now sold off the back of trucks rather than camels. Silk, woven goods, exotic fruits, jade, and probably a little opium turned Kasghar into one of the more powerful Turkic kingdoms up through the 17th.century and later transformed this desert oasis town into one of Asia's major commercial powerhouses.

China: Discontent on the Eve of the Olympics

Like the city's pervasive smog, Olympics paraphernalia covers Beijing. Flags bearing the Olympic rings, banners that read Beijing 2008, and "I love China" stickers smooshed on kids' faces flaunt the country's national pride in itself as host of the world famous Games. Millions were spent on dazzling athletic advertisements along with billions more on new subway lines and buildings.

Maoists in the Forest: Tracking India's Separatist Rebels

The express bus from Hyderabad to Dantewada takes fifteen hours on a good day. As the suburbs of the software hub are left behind, and then the wrought-iron gates of Ramoji Film City, the smooth pavement falls apart. But the sweep of paddy fields and palms—a facsimile of the INCREDIBLE INDIA! billboard hanging at the Delhi airport when I first arrived—grew more hypnotic with each mile, making up for the rough going. Hills loomed in the hazy distance. Cowherds shunted their stock out of harm's way, and women carried grain in clay pots on their heads.

Motlagh Interviewed by the South Asian Journalist Association

By Arun Venugopal

Jason Motlagh, a roving journalist who covers South Asia, has written an extensive piece for the Virginia Quarterly Review on insurgencies that persist across India, despite the country's record economic growth. Motlagh's 9,562 word piece (you read that right) involved months of reporting, and took him to remote areas of Assam, Chhatisgarh, Orissa and Kashmir. His work — including the photographs he took — was funded by a grant from the Pulitzer Center.


Vast ethnic diversity, geography and under-development have bred dozens of separatist movements in India's far-eastern Assam state. But these same factors that gave rise to spasms of violence throughout the region over the last 20 years have also had a containing effect: Militant groups have run up against each other, in addition to the Indian military.


Caught between India, Pakistan and a homegrown desire for independence, Kashmir has been hostage to conflict for more than fifty years. Today violence is in decline, a trend that is attributed to fatigue, a bilateral peace process with traction, and Pakistan's preoccupation with radical Islamic militants in the tribal areas along its Western border.

Kashmir's Uneasy Peace

After nearly two decades of bitter conflict in Kashmir that fueled tensions between India and Pakistan, separatist violence has decreased — to its lowest level since the armed uprising began.

Still, nearly 700,000 Indian troops are deployed around the state. And there are mounting concerns that if the government does not reduce its presence, frustrations may spark a new cycle of violence.


"Kashmir's Uneasy Peace"

Has War Worn Itself Out in Kashmir?

Srinagar, India -- Bullet holes are still visible along the commercial heart of Kashmir's capital, reminders of past gunbattles, bombings and suicide attacks that used to be an almost daily occurrence here.

Today, the only din is traffic and protesting bus drivers, who say the state owes them back wages. "It's been more than two years since we had any kind of explosion here," said Amir Amin, a shopkeeper. "We Kashmiris are so fed up with fighting, it's time we enjoyed business as usual."

Tibetans Question Nonviolence

DHARAMSALA, India -- Palgay spent more than two weeks dodging Chinese authorities to fulfill his lifelong dream — a face-to-face meeting with the Dalai Lama.

His journey to the seat of the spiritual leader's government-in-exile high in the Indian Himalayas began earlier last month when he paid a driver nearly $800 to hide inside a pile of luggage headed for Nepal. From there, he sneaked across the border, feeling his way along treacherous rocky terrain under the cover of darkness.