Sarah, together with her father and brother, meets the bombers who killed her mother as she and her family attempt to understand how the men who carried it out could be followers of the same faith – and claim to carry out the act in the name of Islam.
On her fifth birthday Sarah’s mother died from injuries sustained in a terrorist attack. She was the victim of a car bomb that exploded outside the Australian embassy in the Indonesian capital Jakarta in 2004. It was one of a series of bombings carried out by a local Islamist militant group Jemaah Islamiyah or J-I who were responsible for the country’s worst terrorist attack – the bombing on the holiday island of Bali in 2002 that killed more than 200 people.
J-I members Rois and Ahmad Hassan are now on death row for their role in the bombing that killed Sarah’s mother.
Rebecca Henschke witnesses the extraordinary meeting between Sarah and her mother’s killers on Indonesia’s highest security prison island.
Presenter/producer: Rebecca Henschke
Photo: Sarah (centre), Hassan (L) and Rois (R). Credit: Haryo Wirawan.
The bomber turned peacemaker
“I am an expert bomb maker. I can make bombs in just five minutes; it’s easier than making a kite.”
For Heart and Soul, Rebecca Henschke meets a bomber turned peacemaker as part of the Crossing Divides series on the BBC World Service.
Ali Fauzi was a chief bomb-maker for Jemaah Islamiyah, a terror group with links to Al-Qaeda, responsible for Indonesia’s worst terrorist attack – the Bali bombing in 2002. His brothers carried out the bombing. Two of the brothers were executed, while another is behind bars for life.
Ali insists he was not involved in the Bali bombing, but spent three years in prison for terror-related offences. That was when his life took on a dramatically new direction.
He is now on a mission to help former jihadis leave a life of violence, and to stop new recruits from joining the next wave of terror groups in South East Asia.
Produced and presented by Rebecca Henschke
Dying to worship: The Christians of India
In just two years India has leapt up the table into the top ten of the most dangerous countries to be a Christian.
At the same time, there’s a rise in an extreme version of Hinduism which is linked to the recently re-elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
There are 65 million Christians in India, and they make up just over 2% of this vast country, but instead of being able to live and worship under the radar, in the last five years there’s been a huge increase in serious incidents against Christians. There are hundreds of cases of Christians being physically attacked, harassed, discriminated against, people being forced to flee their villages and Churches being destroyed.
Zubair Ahmed reports for the BBC Hindi Service and is in Uttar Pradesh where many of the reported incidents of violence against Christians are taking place.
Eight states in India have introduced anti-conversion bills to limit conversions from Hinduism to another faith. For the extremists who carry out the attacks the new laws are used as a way to legitimise their violent actions against Christians and Muslims.
The government officially distances itself from the violent mobs that are attacking churches and mosques but the new Citizenship Bill, which was passed just after the elections last year, has defined what it is to be Indian even more vividly.
Zubair meets Christians who have flatly refused to renounce their faith despite the risks.
Presented and produced by Zubair Ahmed
(Photo Credit: Zubair Ahmed)
The Quran-rescuing monk of Timbuktu
Father Columba Stewart, a Benedictine monk from St Joseph's Abbey, Minnesota, travels to Timbuktu with a team of experts trying to persuade the Imams of the City's three great Mosques to allow them to digitise their highly endangered manuscript collections.
These priceless cultural documents are filled with irreplaceable ancient wisdom. They are largely Islamic, but relate to all facets of life in the city over the last several hundred years. Many are straightforward copies of the Quran and the Hadith, but they include information and advice on everyday issues, like potions to prevent a husband from marrying a second time.
Many manuscripts have not been read in centuries, and the vast majority have never been translated. Others are in Arabic script, but the languages are actually African.
The texts themselves cling on to existence. Slowly disintegrating over the ages, they are now under a direct threat from the Islamic State. Many of these texts are viewed as 'haram', heretical or idolatrous, because they are of Sufi origin. Father Columba has watched on in horror as IS has systematically destroyed the Sufi shrines in Timbuktu and, in 2014, 4,000 of these manuscripts were burnt. Time has come for Father Columba to act.
This is a journey fraught with danger. Father Columba is only able to access Timbuktu as part of an army convoy. On the ground, he will be aided by a team of UN security guards. Their presence is essential as Timbuktu is listed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as a no-go zone. All across the surrounding area, Islamic State militants lie in wait.
(Photo: Father Columba Stewart Credit: Sean Glynn/This Is Novel)
Adventures of a Jewish scribe
In the first of two special programmes we meet Marc Michaels who has a rare skill. He’s keeping Jewish tradition alive. He is a Sofer, a scribe. It’s a dexterous skill that has been passed down for thousands of years. Scrolls are always hand written, otherwise they are not Kosher.
Scrolls hold the sacred words of the Torah, God’s instructions to Moses and they form the basic tenets of the Jewish faith as well as playing a vital, symbolic role in the synagogue.
But throughout their turbulent history, Jews have been forced to move on, sometimes at speed, communities have disappeared, or were banned from practicing their faith, and forced to abandon their scrolls. Heart and Soul hears why it so important to find, rescue, repair and return scrolls to Jewish communities throughout the world.
It’s slow, painstaking work, writing over one letter at a time, repairing tears and removing stains on ancient manuscripts.
Marc introduces us to his wife Avielah, who is also a scribe, or 'Soferet'. She calls herself a ‘Scribal Evangelist’, the first modern female scribe
Describing himself as a “Jedi with a quill” Dina looks on as Marc and Avielah bring these ancient, damaged scrolls back to life.
Presenter: Marc Michaels
Producer: Dina Newman