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Heart and Soul

Podcast Heart and Soul

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  • My hijab or my sport
    It took Salimata Sylla three hours to get to the away fixture she was due to play with her basketball team mates from the Parisian suburb of Aubervilliers. But it was only a few minutes before the match started that she learned she was going to sit the game out on the bench. Despite playing for more than 10 years in the French Championship, the federation that controls her sport decided to apply the rule that forbids female basketball players from wearing the hijab. Her coach describes her as the backbone of the team and an ambassador for the sport. She has been a face of basketball for many big brands on social media. And the hijab she wears is sold by mainstream sportswear manufacturers. Salimata’s ban is the latest in country where the right to wear a hijab has long divided opinion. But in her case, it raises an interesting dilemma for France. While domestic sporting federations enforce their ban on the hijab, their international counterparts have no such ban in place. So what will happen, Salimata wonders, when the Olympics come to Paris next year? Reporter Claire Jones goes to Paris to meet Salimata to find out how she can resolve her wish to express her Muslim faith by wearing a hijab with her desire to play the sport she loves. Presenter: Claire Jones Producer: Helen Lee and Rob Cave Production co-ordinator: Mica Nepomuceno
  • An instrument speaking to the infinite
    The organ has always been a vehicle for truly cosmic ideas - for atheists and believers alike. Acclaimed Latvian organist Iveta Apkalna explores the idea that the instrument is simply a vehicle for Christian worship digging deeper into how the organ conveys ideas of the infinite and the microscopic, the existential and the personal, of celebration, grief and joy. Presenter: Iveta Apkalna Producer: Steven Rajam An Overcoat Media production for BBC World Service (Photo: Pipe organ by Nikolaus Moll in the Innsbruck Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of St. James in Innsbruck, Austria. Credit: Getty Images)
  • Two Rabbis, worlds apart in Israel
    When we think of division in the Middle East, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict normally comes straight to mind. But there’s a new and dangerous tension in Israel – between its own Jewish people. The country now has its most right-wing government for decades, with controversial figures who’ve advocated violence and divisive policies. There’s also a plan to change the judicial system to give Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a small number of government figures vast control. Its critics say Israel is in danger of becoming a ‘democratic dictatorship’. This political shift is now pitting ordinary Israeli Jews against each other. The ultra-orthodox Haredim and their conservative supporters are at odds with more liberal elements of society. Former Defence Minister Benny Gantz – a powerful figure in the former government – has even raised the spectre of a civil war in Israel, telling the new politicians that they’ll be responsible if a new conflict breaks out. As efforts are made to maintain peace and hold the country together, the BBC’s Middle East Correspondent Yolande Knell meets two rabbis who are odds with one another in the heart of Jerusalem. Surrounded by the religious iconography that should symbolise the links between them, she explores why the two ends of the spectrum now find themselves so far apart. And she tries to persuade them to come together over a meal to find out if there’s any way to bridge the gaping political and theological differences in their thinking. But will they be willing to meet? Presenter: Yolande Knell Producer: Rajeev Gupta Editor: Helen Grady Production Coordinator: Mica Nepomuceno
  • Coming out of the Ifá closet
    Almost 10 years ago, Peter MacJob’s life changed forever. Born and raised a devout Christian like so many of his fellow Nigerians, he fell out of love with the Church and discovered the traditional Yoruba religion of his ancestors. Other Africans appear to be doing the same thing, both on the continent and throughout the diaspora. But as Peter has found, it is not always easy to convert: Ifá, or Isese, involves effigies, divination, and making offerings to a range of deities, up to and including animal sacrifice. Those not initiated into the faith often see it as superstitious and even sinister. Devotees say that outsiders misunderstand, and complain that Ifá is pejoratively depicted as devil worship. It is perhaps little wonder that after Peter adopted Ifá, he chose not to tell his family about it. But now he has decided it is time to come clean, taking a trip back to Nigeria to confront childhood friends and loved ones, in the hope that they will give their blessing. Presenter: Peter MacJob Producer: Michael Gallagher Strand producer: Rajeev Gupta Production co-ordinator: Mica Nepomuceno Editor: Helen Grady
  • Stripped of my spirituality
    Aged four, Mary was playing in her parents’ front yard, when she was grabbed by “the government people” and taken to a Catholic boarding school to be turned into a Christian. She’s just one of thousands of Native Americans who were forcibly removed from their homes and put into boarding schools from the 1800s right up to the 1970s. According to a US government report, the purpose of these schools was to strip indigenous people of their spiritual beliefs, culture and land. A government investigation also found that physical, emotional and sexual abuse was “rampant”. Indigenous Americans’ spiritual beliefs are now experiencing a renaissance, but is this revival enough to enable Mary and her friends heal from a childhood of trauma in America’s residential schools? Presenter: Leana Hosea Producer: Leana Hosea with Rajeev Gupta Production co-ordinator: Nancy Bennie Editor: Helen Grady

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