Fifth Floor, The

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A Short History of Blasphemy20140530

A Short History of Blasphemy2014053020140531 (WS)

Why is blasphemy such a big issue in Pakistan? It's constantly in the headlines - BBC Urdu's Amber Shamsi tracks the history of blasphemy in Pakistan while satirist Mohammed Hanif breaks down how one can or can't blaspheme in Karachi.

Mixtape: Togo

BBC Afrique's music journalist Ata Ahli Ahebla spins another Fifth Floor mixtape - this time from Togo. He gives his favourite four tracks spanning 40 years of Togolese music, including Toofan, Bella Bellow, Peter Solo and Elom Vince

Sexual Harassment in Egypt

Earlier this month, Egypt passed a law addressing one of the country's worst epidemics - sexual harassment. From Cairo, Angy Ghannam reports on what women do to avoid being grabbed and groped, and the lengths that some go to protect themselves in the streets.

Election Oddities

In the Egyptian elections this week voting was extended, train fares were waived and a public holiday was declared in order to tempt the people out to vote. On Saturday, Syria will be holding its own elections with a whole different set of challenges - Bashar al-Assad is widely expected to win but the question is by how much. In previous campaigns his family has reached the lofty heights of 95% of the vote, and this is the first time in decades that Syria is holding a presidential election with more than one candidate. Journalists Murad Shishani and Shahida Tulaganova discuss some of the more unusual elections of past and present from around the world.

Online Greatest Hits

Digital diva Fifi Haroon gives the low down on the top-hitting stories across the language service websites, including Mexican snakes and Russian beavers.

Comedy in Kampala

BBC Africa's Kassim Kayira has been seeing the funny side of life in Uganda. He reports on the rise of stand-up comedy nights in Kampala, what Ugandans are laughing at and what's been tickling him.

Photo credit: Getty

Dodging the Spies2013110120131102 (WS)

Pakistanis accustomed to avoiding the snoops offer tips to the Europeans

Dodging the Spies2013110120131102 (WS)

Pakistanis accustomed to avoiding the snoops offer tips to the Europeans

Dodging the Spies20131101

Pakistanis accustomed to avoiding the snoops offer tips to the Europeans

Dodging the Spies20131101

With Europe still reeling from the revelations of the extent of the tentacles of America's National Security Agency, our man in Karachi - BBC Urdu's Mohammed Hanif (who has had the odd run-in with intelligence officials himself) - offers some useful words of advice on how to avoid the snoops.

Dodging Drones

Waziristan in Pakistan's tribal region is an area that is constantly watched by US military drones. At least four drones hover in the sky at any given time of day - which is stressful enough but especially difficult if you are interviewing the head of the Taliban at the same time. The BBC's Ahmed Wali Mujeeb describes a tricky assignment in Pakistan's drone country.

Pronunciation Headaches

There's a new president in Georgia - so it's goodbye Mr. Saakashvili, hello Mr... Margvelashvili. Or it would be if we knew how to say his name. Calls poured in to the BBC's Pronunciation Unit on how to handle that one this week - but his is not the only difficult name to pronounce, in fact some names are deliberately mispronounced in order to avoid embarrassing mishaps on air.

Underneath the Bosphorus

This week, trains started to carry passengers under the Bosphorus Strait, linking the Asian and European sides of Istanbul by rail for the first time. It's a journey that only takes four minutes and the Turkish Service's Rengin Arslan has a ticket.

Ministry of Happiness

Venezuela announced a brand-new government department - the Ministry of Happiness run by the Under-Secretary for Supreme Happiness. So if you are cranky in Caracas and an all-around miserable Venezuelan, do not fear - help is apparently on its way. BBC Mundo's Yolanda Valery explains the logic behind this new venture.

The Story of Bossa Nova

BBC Brasil's Monica Vasconcelos dips into the history of the beats, sambas and rhythms that make up Brazil's iconic music - bossa nova.

The Fifth Floor is presented by David Amanor.

(Picture: Woman wears oversized sun-glasses with the words 'Stop Spying' written on the lens. Credit: Getty Images)

Dodging the Spies2013110120131102 (WS)

Pakistanis accustomed to avoiding the snoops offer tips to the Europeans

Kiev: the Story of Hrushevsky Street20140124

Kiev: the Story of Hrushevsky Street2014012420140125 (WS)

A history of an iconic street and its significance in Ukraine's anti-government protests

Kiev: the Story of Hrushevsky Street20140124

Kiev: the Story of Hrushevsky Street2014012420140125 (WS)

A history of an iconic street and its significance in Ukraine's anti-government protests

Kiev: the Story of Hrushevsky Street20140124

Kiev: the Story of Hrushevsky Street20140124

A history of an iconic street and its significance in Ukraine's anti-government protests

Kiev: the Story of Hrushevsky Street20140124

Kiev: the Story of Hrushevsky Street20140124

Anti-government protesters in Kiev have been inching closer and closer to Hrushevsky Street. The road is home to Ukrainian government buildings as well as the football stadium where local team Dynamo Kiev play, but this week it was overrun by bullets, molotov cocktails and burning tyres, the stadium was damaged and the ticket office burned down. The Ukrainian Service's Andriy Kravets tells the story of this iconic street and its significance.

Also on the programme:

The Hidden Musical Instruments of Iran

An Iranian TV channel caused a sensation this week by showing a musical instrument on television for the first time in 30 years. The practice has been banned in the country because some Shia clerics say that broadcasting music is at odds with Islam, so Iran adopted a curious policy of broadcasting concerts but not showing the instruments - often replacing them with vases of flowers. Golnoosh Golshani and Faranak Amidi of the Persian Service discuss how to perform music on Iranian TV.

Travel Guide to Sochi

Sochi - the Black Sea holiday resort also known as the "Russian Riveria" - is the rather unexpected, sub-tropical venue for next month's Winter Olympic Games. BBC Russian's Anastasia Uspenskaya gives her top Sochi city travel tips - though it may be difficult to avoid the "twin toilets".

Online Greatest Hits

Fifi Haroon gives the low down on the top-hitting stories across the Language Service websites, including a Belarussian parrot running in local elections and a Chinese computer game targeting corrupt government officials.

Borderlife: Uzbekistan

What is it like to live along Uzbekistan's borders? Our Central Asian journalists take us on a journey around the landlocked country, with Moheb Mudessir on the Afghan-Uzbek border, Sirojuddin Tolibov on the Tajik-Uzbek separation, Rose Kudabaeva from the Kazakh-Uzbek divide, and Ibrat Safo along the Turkmen-Uzbek crossing.

Komla Dumor Tribute

This week the BBC lost a great man: journalist Komla Dumor was a friend to all who knew him in the BBC. This is our tribute to him in his own words.

The Fifth Floor is presented by David Amanor.

Image: Anti-government protesters stand on a hill near Dynamo Stadium. Credit: Getty

Minefields, Vineyards and Flak Jackets: Reporting from the Turkish Syria Border2014100320141004 (WS)

BBC Türkçe's Zeynip Erdim is in the Turkish-Kurdish town of Urfa where floods of refugees have been pouring in from across the Syrian border to escape the fighting between Islamic State militants and Turkish forces. She reflects on what it's like to report from the edge of war - how she heard the chanting of ISIS fighters before they rained down bullets on her group, and how her translator needed to stop and weep after some of their interviews.

Sierra Leone's Songs for Change - From Political Satire to Ebola Pop Music

Music has long been a tool for political debate and public information in Sierra Leone - from tunes satirising politicians to the Ebola pop songs of today, raising awareness about the virus. BBC Africa's Umaru Fofana in Freetown steers us through the tracks designed to mobilise a nation.

Afghanistan's New First Lady

As Ashraf Ghani was sworn in as President this week he did something no other Afghan President has done before - he turned to his wife and thanked her. This moment led to an intense debate on the role that Rula Ghani, a Christian Lebanese American will play as First Lady in the country. Previously, President's wives have stayed firmly behind the scenes. Sana Safi of BBC Afghan and Mariam Aman of BBC Persian take us through the debate.

Hong Kong in Pictures

Images of the protests in Hong Kong have dominated our screens this week - streets teeming with protestors, each with a phone in hand, banners, barricades and umbrellas - moments that captured some of the details of the rallies. Martin Yip in Hong Kong and Frank Ip in London talk us through the pictures that tell the story of a turbulent week.

Chile's Giant Singing Frogs

It is singing season for the Chilean giant frog. It is a sound that makes BBC Mundo's Paula Molina nostalgic for nights spent outdoors on the farm in southern Chile where her mother was raised. The Chilean giant frog has been around for millennia, but now it is under threat due to water scarcity, pollution and the long-standing tradition amongst Chileans of eating frogs.

(Photo: Syrian Kurds fleeing Kobane. Credit: IMG)

Nairobi Uncovered20140725

Nairobi Uncovered2014072520140726 (WS)

An insider's view of Nairobi with the BBC journalists who work there

Nairobi Uncovered20140725

Nairobi Uncovered2014072520140726 (WS)

An insider's view of Nairobi with the BBC journalists who work there

Nairobi Uncovered20140725

Nairobi Uncovered20140725

An insider's view of Nairobi with the BBC journalists who work there

Nairobi Uncovered20140725

Nairobi Uncovered20140725

Security has been tight in the city since the Westgate attacks of September last year. Hardly a day goes past without security issues making their way into the news agenda. But how has life changed for the journalists reporting from and living in this vibrant, bustling city? David Amanor is in Nairobi to meet BBC Somali and Swahili teams to hear about the stories and from the people that show the character of the place.

We take a booming and bumping matatu ride for a tour of the city, hearing about its history and the quirks and nuances of each district. First stop is 'Little Mogadishu' aka Eastleigh, home to the majority of the city's Somali community. As part of the government security crackdown, houses in the neighbourhood are regularly searched and hundreds of Somalis have been detained accused of being illegally in the country. But does the fear of the police outweigh the fear of militant violence? The soundtrack for this leg of the journey comes from Waayaha Cusub - the hip hop collective who battle militant insurgency through rap.

We also ask how the changing dynamics of the city have affected the local media landscape and the role of local journalism. And outside mainstream media, David heads to Homeboyz, a youth radio station and DJ school to learn to mix and scratch Nairobi style, and hear how the city's party scene is still booming in spite of the security challenges.

Reporting From an Ebola Hotspot20140801

Reporting From an Ebola Hotspot2014080120140802 (WS)

BBC Africa's Umaru Fofana in Freetown, Sierra Leone has been reporting on the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history. He describes how the virus has affected the atmosphere of his city and the precautions he has to take when covering this story. And as the death toll rises to over 700 across West Africa, so has the panic, misinformation and fear. Also from Freetown, BBC Media Action's Musa Sangarie reflects on how radio can tackle the spread of life-threatening rumours.

Also in the programme:

Searching for George Orwell in Bihar

A bungalow in Motihari in the Indian state of Bihar where George Orwell was born is set to become the world's first museum dedicated to the writer. BBC Urdu's Suhail Haleem travels to Motihari to find out whether people there have ever heard of this famous former resident.

Forbidden love in Afghanistan

Ali and Zakia met when they were child shepherds herding their flocks in the fields of Afghanistan's mountainous Bamiyan province. Ali is an ethnic Hazara and Shia, while Zakia is Tajik and Sunni, but these cultural differences didn't stop the young couple from falling in love. When rumours about their courtship got out, the couple feared Zakia's family might kill them both. In March, they eloped in secret and have been living in hiding since. BBC Persian's Ayoub Arwin, who is also from Bamiyan, has been to meet with them at their safe house and provides an update on their story.

Togo's role in World War I

The first shots of the First World War were reportedly fired in Togo. In the year of the war's centenary, BBC Africa's Akwasi Sarpong explores West Africa's involvement in the conflict.

Online Greatest Hits

Digital diva Fifi Haroon gives the low down on the top-hitting stories across the web including Kenya's boozy baboons and the Indian boy who had 232 teeth removed.

Hafez Nazeri

Persian composer Hafez Nazeri's new album was top of the classical music charts in the United States for two weeks - a rare occurrence for Iranian and Middle Eastern music. BBC Persian's Sam Farzaneh caught up with Hafez to talk about his unique fusion of western and eastern music.

(Image: A reporter typing wearing gloves. Image credit: European Photopress Agency.)

Reporting Rebellion2013110820131109 (WS)

Watching the demise of the M23 rebels from opposite sides of the Congolese-Ugandan border

Reporting Rebellion2013110820131109 (WS)

Watching the demise of the M23 rebels from opposite sides of the Congolese-Ugandan border

Reporting Rebellion20131108

Watching the demise of the M23 rebels from opposite sides of the Congolese-Ugandan border

Reporting Rebellion20131108

BBC Africa's Maud Jullien and Ignatius Bahizi have been stationed on opposite sides of the Congolese-Ugandan border, busy reporting the demise of the rebel group M23. They share experiences and anxieties of watching the battle unfold and surviving on pure adrenalin.

Superheroes

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's Kamala Khan - the latest female, muslim superhero to be unleashed by Marvel Comics. Journalists from Azerbaijan, Afghanistan and Pakistan combine their own magical powers to conjure up a custom made superhero from their own countries.

Argentina's Blacklist

Secret files relating to Argentina's 'Dirty War' were discovered this week gathering dust in an air force building in Buenos Aires. Among the 1,500 documents is a blacklist, almost exclusively made up of well-known artists, singers and writers. BBC Mundo's Valeria Perasso and Natalio Cosoy remember their favourite performers targeted by the junta.

Judiciary in Overdrive

Bangladesh's judiciary has been in overdrive this year, with everything from war crimes trials to soldiers on trial for their role in a mutiny. How does BBC Bengali keep up with the overwhelming number of stories from the law courts? Editor Sabir Mustafa gives a run-down of some of the most prominent and heated cases.

Online Greatest Hits

Fifi Haroon gives the lowdown on the big-hitting stories across the World Service language sites, including Siberian cats and mass weddings in Bishkek.

Russian Service Reunion

Sevaborot was the first live, unscripted programme on Russian radio and it broke new ground in the country when it launched in 1987. The three main presenters - Seva Novgorodsev, Leo Feigin and Leonid Finkelstein, now in their 70s and 80s, are reunited on air and recall an era of broadcasting that involved red wine in the studio.

The Fifth Floor is presented by David Amanor.

Sachin Tendulkar and Cricket Diplomacy2013111520131116 (WS)

Farewell to Sachin: did the cricketing legend ease tensions between India and Pakistan?

Sachin Tendulkar and Cricket Diplomacy20131115

Farewell to Sachin: did the cricketing legend ease tensions between India and Pakistan?

Sachin Tendulkar and Cricket Diplomacy20131115

Farewell to Sachin: did the cricketing legend ease tensions between India and Pakistan? BBC Hindi's Nitin Srivastava is in Mumbai watching Sachin Tendulkar's last match, he discusses with BBC Urdu's Aamer Ahmed Khan how politicians use cricket to promote diplomacy and whether it really works.

Lifeline Reporting

How does broadcasting change in the aftermath of a natural disaster? BBC Somali's Yonis Nur and BBC Urdu's Shafi Naqi Jamie give insights into how lifeline radio works - including tracing missing people on air.

Venezuela's Shopping Frenzy

Shopping isn't always the most relaxing of pastimes - especially so if you are in Venezuela, which is currently in the grip of shopping fever after President Maduro dramatically announced that he was slashing prices of electrical goods in the country. He claims this is in order to regulate the economy and combat corruption. But will BBC Mundo's Daniel Pardo buy a new knocked down television?

An Impostor on the Airwaves

Who is that journalist on your radio - is it BBC or an impostor? Our reporter in Cameroon, Mahaman Babalala, recently discovered he was being impersonated on air, on a completely different radio station by a man in Nigeria. He describes what happened and head of the Hausa Service reveals that this isn't an entirely uncommon practice.

Online Greatest Hits

Fifi Haroon gives the lowdown on the big-hitting stories across the World Service language sites, including Putin's latest macho achievement and a Ukrainian pothole fixer.

Musical Maestro

The reigning master of Bollywood music AR Rahman speaks to BBC Hindi's Deepti Karki about making the soundtracks that a modern generation of Indians have grown up with.

The Fifth Floor is presented by David Amanor.

Picture: Crowds hold up posters of Sachin Tendulkar

Picture Credit: AP

Stories From the Frontline: Burkina Faso2014110720141108 (WS)

Revolutions and counter-revolutions as told by BBC Afrique's Lamine Konkobo

Stories From the Frontline: Burkina Faso2014110720141108 (WS)

Revolutions and counter-revolutions as told by BBC Afrique's Lamine Konkobo

Stories From the Frontline: Burkina Faso20141107

Revolutions and counter-revolutions as told by BBC Afrique's Lamine Konkobo

Stories From the Frontline: Burkina Faso20141107

Over the last 27 years Burkina Faso has experienced one coup, one attempted coup, one army mutiny, and one popular uprising. Lamine Konkobo is a BBC Afrique journalist who has lived through and reported on these political convulsions. He talks about what it was like growing up during a time of revolution, and now as an adult watching as Ouagadougou walks the line between military and civilian rule. Plus, a week in Ouaga - Laeila Adjovi sends a sound picture from Ouagadougou at the height of the popular protests.

From Prisoner to President

From East Timor's Xanana Gusmao to Uruguay's Jose Mujica and Brazil's Dilma Roussef, many of the world's most well known presidents served time in jail before before taking up their country's highest office. BBC Brasil's Rogerio Wasserman and BBC Indonesia's Liston Siregar provide insight into why so many notable presidents were formerly prisoners.

The Culinary Guide for Jihadi Wives

The new propaganda arm of Islamic State - the Zora media foundation - is releasing guides on how to be the 'ultimate wives of jihad'. The online information guides include recipes for foods that can be eaten in between battles, instructions on nursing and administering first aid, the books of God and Sharia science. This is just the latest in a long line of campaigns for recruitment to their cause. Murad Shishani from BBC Arabic talks us through jihadi propaganda methods and the role of women in IS.

Exploring the Global Appeal of Doctor Who

Doctor Who is the longest running science fiction TV programme in the world and has over 80 million fans. It began in November 1963 and the 50th anniversary special was watched in 94 countries including Thailand, Angola, USA, Guatemala and Uzbekistan. The launch of the new series recently saw the cast and crew surrounded by excited fans from Seoul to Mexico City. Not bad for a 2,000 year old time travelling alien in a blue police box. To discuss Doctor Who's global appeal David Amanor is joined by Alireza Vasefi, who as well as being the dubbing mixer on the programme for BBC Persian TV is also the farsi voice of The Doctor, and Social Media Editor and Mexican super fan, David Cuen.

Online Greatest Hits

Digital diva Fifi Haroon gives the lowdown on the weird and wonderful stories across the web, including a monkey marriage and a Taiwanese mosquito swatting contest.

The Fifth Floor is presented by David Amanor.

Picture: Two young men in Burkina Faso pose with a police riot shield

Picture Credit: Getty Images

Stories from the Frontline: Gaza20140808

Stories from the Frontline: Gaza2014080820140809 (WS)

When home becomes a conflict zone: reporting, sleeping and surviving in the bureau

Stories from the Frontline: Gaza20140808

Stories from the Frontline: Gaza2014080820140809 (WS)

When home becomes a conflict zone: reporting, sleeping and surviving in the bureau

Stories from the Frontline: Gaza20140808

Stories from the Frontline: Gaza20140808

When home becomes a conflict zone: reporting, sleeping and surviving in the bureau

Stories from the Frontline: Gaza20140808

Stories from the Frontline: Gaza20140808

How do you cope when your home is a conflict zone? For the last month, BBC Arabic's Shahdi Alkashif has been sleeping on the floor of his office in Gaza. Shahdi has been on the ground reporting the war for BBC Arabic, and he reflects on how this is affecting life for him and his family.

Also in the programme:

Famous Resignations

This week marks 40 years since the first and only resignation of an American president - Richard Nixon. From Yeltsin to Musharraf and Mubarak, language service journalists remember covering the last days of historic premierships and what the atmosphere was like in those countries when the news broke.

African Horror Fiction

The revenge of wronged ancestors, villages populated by the dead and what can befall you when you don't knock on the door of a morgue three times. Welcome to the world of West African horror fiction. Nigerian writer Nuzo Onoh tells David about her new supernatural novel The Reluctant Dead and BBC Africa's Veronique Edwards shares scary tales from her native Cameroon.

Water as a Weapon in Iraq

Two rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates, are the lifeblood of Iraq. Iraqis depend on these waters for fishing, farming, drinking and hydro-electric power. Now there are fears that Islamic State militants could take control of the country by capturing dams on these waterways, allowing them to flood upstream regions and create drought in cities downstream. BBC Persian's Jiyar Gol has been to the region to investigate. He tells David how a life-giving natural resource can become a deadly weapon.

Eastleigh: A Local's Tour

BBC Somali's Suheba Mohammed takes David to the heart of Eastleigh - a district in Nairobi populated mainly by ethnic Somali Kenyans and Somalis who fled decades of war in their homeland. The place is famous for its vibrant markets, although a crackdown against illegal migration and suspected militants has also taken its toll.

Online Greatest Hits

Digital diva Fifi Haroon gives the lowdown on the top-hitting stories across the web including Japanese snapping turtles and the Russian teenagers who made a swimming pool in their living room.

Photo credit: Getty Images

Why are Shipping Containers so Popular in Pakistan?20140822

Why are Shipping Containers so Popular in Pakistan?2014082220140823 (WS)

The hunk of metal that is all the rage with Pakistani politicians, protestors and police

Why are Shipping Containers so Popular in Pakistan?20140822

Why are Shipping Containers so Popular in Pakistan?2014082220140823 (WS)

The hunk of metal that is all the rage with Pakistani politicians, protestors and police

Why are Shipping Containers so Popular in Pakistan?20140822

Why are Shipping Containers so Popular in Pakistan?20140822

The hunk of metal that is all the rage with Pakistani politicians, protestors and police

Why are Shipping Containers so Popular in Pakistan?20140822

Why are Shipping Containers so Popular in Pakistan?20140822

Shipping containers have never been so popular in Pakistan as they are right now. The enormous steel blocks have been a fairly common sight on Islamabad's roads this week - used by the police to keep out anti-government protestors who have been marching on the capital to demand the prime minister's resignation. And also used by the protestors themselves - fashioned into makeshift homes, offices and stages for the protest leaders - politician Imran Khan and cleric Tahirul Qadri. Reporter Fahad Desmukh explains the rise of the shipping containers, the art of furnishing them, and what they say about Pakistani politics and public space.

How to Build an an Army

The Somali government has been in power for nearly two years and during that time they have started to re-build the national army, but there have been some problems. As officers are called back to reclaim their military ranks, there has also been a rise in sales of the military epaulettes that denote rank in the local market. Many thousands are said to have been claiming ranks that they just don't have. The Chief of the Somali Army announced recently that there were almost a thousand fake ranks within the military and he would no longer tolerate it. Mohamed Moalimu from BBC Somali explains some of the struggles of building a new modern army in Somalia. Plus, Aamer Ahmed Khan from BBC Urdu and Kasim Kayira from BBC Africa - who are knowledgeable in all matters military - give their do's and don'ts for creating a new modern army.

Understanding Iranian TV Censorship

How would you feel if you suddenly found out your favourite television characters were not at all what you imagined them to be? Growing up in 1980s Tehran, BBC Persian's Golnoosh Golshani's cherished TV shows were foreign imports and subject to such sophisticated censorship that the characters and plot lines became rather different from their original depictions. She reflects on her best loved TV memories - watching the British drama The Secret Army and the Japanese serial Oshin - and how she discovered the real stories behind the TV shows that were censored.

Intercepts and the Conflict in Eastern Ukraine

Just this week the Ukrainian Secret Service published an intercepted conversation, allegedly between two pro-Russian rebels in Donetsk discussing shelling in a civilian area. It's one of many intercepted messages since the conflict began in eastern Ukraine. BBC Languages Editor Olexiy Solohubenko charts the story of the current unrest through some of the key intercepts - why are these messages so significant and what do they say about the nature of this particular war?

Symphony for the Shahnameh

The Shahnameh, or the Book of Kings, is one of the most famous pieces of literature in Persian history. The poem, written over 1,000 years ago by the poet Ferdowsi, comes in at over 50,000 verses and tells the legendary past of Persia through epic battles, romance and family rifts. Iranian composer Behzad Ranjbaran talks about how the Shahnameh has inspired his latest musical works.

Photo Credit: Getty Images: Police using shipping containers as blockades in Islamabad.