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The Fifth Floor


Faranak Amidi takes a fresh look at the stories of the week with journalists from our 40 language sections.

Faranak Amidi takes a fresh look at the stories of the week with journalists from our 40 language sections.


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Faranak Amidi takes a fresh look at the stories of the week with journalists from our 40 language sections.




India's problem with sacred cows

Uttar Pradesh has a problem with cows. Cows are considered sacred by Hindus, and since the BJP state government banned illegal slaughterhouses five years ago, small farmers have had no way of legally disposing of unwanted cows. There are now nearly a million stray cows roaming around farmland, destroying crops, and causing injury and even death, as BBC Hindi's Nitin Srivastava reports. Brownie, Chile's 'first dog' Chile's recently elected president, Gabriel Boric, won with the highest number...


Journalism under Taliban rule

When the Taliban took over in Afghanistan five months ago, the BBC’s Shoaib Sharifi and his team had to decide how to adapt to the new reality. Shoaib is the country director of the BBC’s international charity, BBC Media Action. He tells us how they’re trying to meet the needs of audiences who face so many new challenges. Chinese eye row Chinese model Cai Niangniang recently found herself in the middle of a social media storm. Pictures of her were deemed 'deliberately offensive' and...


The tale of the Gilgamesh Dream tablet

An ancient clay tablet looted from Iraq in 1991 was recently returned to the country. The Gilgamesh Dream Tablet is part of the Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the world’s oldest surviving works of literature. BBC Arabic’s Eli Melki trained as an archaeologist, and he explains what makes this tablet so remarkable. The magic of mahjong We revisit a story from BBC Chinese, about the enduring appeal of mahjong, which started as an exclusive game played at the imperial court. Suping and editor Howard...


Iraq 2021

BBC Arabic journalist Murad Shishani spent several weeks this year reporting from Iraq. He visited Mosul, liberated four years ago from so-called Islamic State, to gauge the mood ahead of October's election. More recently, he covered the stories of migrants, from those repatriated from Belarus to those lost in the English Channel, and those still planning to make the hazardous journey. Benin's royal treasures This year saw a historic moment for the West African nation of Benin, when France...


Songs and social media

This month BBC Persian TV launched a new show. It’s called Update and aims to bring social media trends and online discussions around the news to TV audiences. One of its first stories was the social media campaigns around Isfahan's water protests. First time presenter Taraneh Stone tells us about their agenda, and about her own launch 'wobbles'. The tattooed women of Sindh The women of a Hindu community in Sindh in Pakistan have a tradition of tattooing themselves before marriage. Stars,...


Becoming a ‘foreign agent’

What’s it like to be named a ‘foreign agent’ by your own government? That’s what happened to BBC Russian journalist Andrei Zakharov in October. He’s worked in BBC Russian’s investigations unit for many years, and investigative journalists were some of the first on the list. We find out what becoming a ‘foreign agent’ has meant for him. Reporting from the volcano Mount Semeru in eastern Java erupted a week ago, killing dozens of people, and destroying thousands of homes. BBC Indonesian’s...


Reporting the Channel migrant tragedy

BBC Persian’s Soran Qurbani was recently in Calais to report on the tragic deaths of 27 people, who were attempting to cross the Channel to England when their small boat sank. He explains why their stories brought back memories of his own difficult journey to the UK 10 years ago. Story Story An imaginary market place in West Africa is the setting for the long-running radio drama Story Story, made by the BBC’s international charity BBC Media Action. As buyers and sellers go about their...


China surveillance system unpicked

The use of surveillance systems in China is not new, but a recent document published by local authorities in the province of Henan gave explicit details of a traffic light system, targeting international students and journalists, among others. Howard Zhang, from BBC Chinese tells us more. Siberian husky or Andean fox? A Peruvian family in Lima bought a puppy they believed was a Siberian Husky. But when Run Run began eating the neighbours' chickens and guinea pigs they realised something was...


The challenges of filming at altitude

Many communities in India's northern Ladakh region are experiencing water shortages because of shrinking glaciers. BBC India team Aamir Peerzada and Neha Sharma went to report on how people in one village, Kumik, have ended up building a new settlement close to a river. It turned out to be an eventful trip. Bodybuilding in the Arab world Bodybuilding is a popular pastime for men throughout the Arab world, but what does it take to achieve the muscle development that bodybuilders strive for,...


Afghanistan's Ministry of Vice and Virtue

Soon after taking power, the Taliban replaced the Department for Women's Affairs with the Ministry for Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. It's a name many Afghans feared during the last Taliban era, as 'morality police' enforced their extreme interpretation of Islam. BBC Afghan's Shekiba Habib lived through that era, and reports on what we know about how the current ministry is operating. Istanbul's taxi problem If you’ve ever struggled to hail a taxi, spare a thought for people...


Myanmar’s women-only army

A group of women in central Myanmar have formed their own anti-junta militia, and are fighting alongside other armed groups. Armed resistance to the military regime has been increasing since the coup nine months ago. BBC Burmese editor Soe Win Than tells us more about the Myaung Women Warriors. My Home Town: Damascus A new episode of our series 'My Home Town', in which our language service journalists share stories about the place where they grew up. Today, Dima Babilie of BBC Arabic takes...


Who are the Oromo Liberation Army?

As rebel TPLF forces advance towards the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, other armed groups say they are forming an alliance with them. These include the secretive Oromo Liberation Army, which first appeared in the 1970s. The BBC's Africa correspondent Catherine Byaruhanga was the first international journalist to meet them, at a desert training camp. The dispute over Scythian gold When Russian forces seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, a unique collection of Scythian treasures from museums...


Filming Life at 50°C

COP26 kicks off in Glasgow this Sunday, and what’s at stake is the future of the planet. We speak to BBC Arabic's Namak Khoshnaw and Hanan Razek about the Life at 50°C series, highlighting the impact of living with rising temperatures and changing weather patterns around the world. And we find out what it's like trying to film when your camera's asking to cool down. Baby elephants changing lives A community in northern Kenya has found a sustainable way to feed orphaned baby elephants - using...


The 1961 Paris massacre cover-up

It’s 60 years since a peaceful march in Paris ended in the killing of at least 100 Algerian protesters by the police. An extensive cover-up meant that almost nothing was known about it for several decades, and the true facts are still emerging. BBC Arabic’s Ahmed Rouaba has been looking into the story. The Stallion of Yennenga As film-makers gather for the FESPACO African film festival in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, we ask what’s the story behind the main prize, called the...


Why I became a journalist

For many the decision to become a journalist emerges slowly, but not for Nataliya Zotova. Writing was always a passion, and the killing of Novaya Gazeta's Anna Politkovskaya inspired her to work at the same newspaper. She shares her journey from shy teenager to BBC Russian reporter. The Chinese workers who live in fear in Pakistan Chinese workers who move to Pakistan to work on projects connected to China’s Belt and Road initiative are increasingly being targetted by local militant groups....


Ecuador’s prison battle: The aftermath

The president of Ecuador has declared a state of emergency for the prison system after the country’s worst prison riot, in which 118 inmates died. It’s part of a wave of violence that has swept Ecuador's jails, as rival drug gangs fight for dominance. BBC Mundo’s Ana Maria Roura has been looking into the story. Squid Game: kids' games and killings ‘Squid Game’ has been topping streaming charts around the world. The South Korean drama sees contestants playing popular children's games to win...


Meet Kenya's Guru of Love

The BBC's gender and identity correspondent, Megha Mohan, meets Robert Burale, an East African guru of love, whose seminars promise the hopeful they can “Get a boyfriend for Christmas". So what's the advice, and who's buying? Giant African snails in Kerala Giant African snails have become a pest in Kerala, so one area came up with a creative snail hunting idea: a chance to win over a million dollars for catching the most. Too good to be true? Over to the BBC's Jaltson Akkanath Chummar....


What's behind Guinea's coup?

The military coup earlier this month in the West African state of Guinea has been a huge story for BBC reporter Alhassan Sillah, based in the capital Conakry. He tells us about the main players - coup leader Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, and the man he ousted, President Alpha Condé. The swimming camels of Kutch The Kharai are a rare breed of camel found in the Indian state of Gujarat. They swim up to three kilometres in shallow seas to reach the mangroves where they graze. But as salt companies...


The Kenyan men campaigning against FGM

Campaigns to end female genital mutilation usually focus on women’s experiences for obvious reasons: women bear the lifelong physical and psychological scars. But in Kenya the Men End FGM Foundation is adding men’s voices to the anti-FGM movement. Esther Ogola is the women’s affairs reporter in Nairobi who covered the story. Arabic coffee and health BBC Arabic has been investigating the health risks of the strong dark coffee traditionally drunk in Greece and Turkey and across the Arab world....


Afghanistan: History repeats itself

For many in the BBC Afghan service, recent events have brought back traumatic memories. For Shekiba Habib, the first takeover by the Taliban ended her dream of becoming a doctor. 20 years on, she shares similar stories she's hearing of broken dreams and loss of hope. El Salvador and Bitcoin: the El Zonte mystery Bitcoin joined the US dollar as legal tender in El Salvador this week. Quite a leap, but it turns out the small tourist surf town of El Zonte had been using the cryptocurrency for a...