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CONNECT THE WORLD

Ripple Effects of Threat to Burn Korans

Aired September 10, 2010 - 16:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


MAX FOSTER, HOST: Word that this pastor in the southern United States could still burn the Koran triggers protests as far away as Islamabad and has the Anglican vicar of Baghdad warning that his congregation could face a violent backlash.

This is the show that demonstrates how one story ripples around the globe. On CNN, this is the hour we connect the world.

This time of year should find Muslims around the world celebrating Eid, the end of Ramadan. Instead, it's being overshadowed by the threat of their holy book being desecrated. Tonight, we examine where Christians and Muslims live together in harmony and where a fragile peace could be threatened.

Also ahead, this is not the sort of drill schoolchildren should be practicing -- what to do if they're caught in the middle of a drug war shootout. We look at what can be learned from similar schoolyard tragedies around the world.

Now, just days ago, Terry Jones was a relatively unknown pastor of a small church in Florida. Now, many say his actions could help undermine the West's strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan and throughout the Muslim world.

John Zarrella brings us up to speed live from Gainesville in Florida.

What's going on there?

What do we know about what's happening tomorrow -- John?

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Max.

Well, here is the latest and then I'll kind of set a little bit of the framework.

The latest is there will not be -- will not be any Koran burning tomorrow here at the -- at the church. Now, what happens after that is another story, but there will not be a Koran burning here tomorrow.

A couple of hours ago, Pastor Jones came out here and at his side was K.A. Paul, an Evangelist. And the two of them said that they were giving the imam in New York two hours to call them and to tell them definitively that he would be agreeing to move the mosque and the -- in New York that's -- that's planned for New York Ground Zero.

Well, the two hours went by. They did not get a call from the imam, not that anyone really expected that they would. And then they came back out and they said that, in fact, there would, definitively, not be a Koran burning tomorrow. But Pastor Jones insisted that he was still hopeful he'd get his meeting in New York.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REV. TERRY JONES, DOVE WORLD OUTREACH CENTER: And just to inform you, as of this time, we have not heard from the imam, but we are still very, very hopeful that we will meet with him and we are still very convinced, through the different channels that we have, that we, at this time, cannot mention, that this meeting will take place tomorrow.

Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZARRELLA: Now, the meeting probably will not, despite what Jones says, take place tomorrow. The imam in New York has already issued a statement that -- saying that he would be open to meeting, but certainly not tomorrow; perhaps next week. And the local imam here, Imam Musri, who was trying yes -- yesterday to broker some sort of an arrangement, a meeting with the imam in New York, also came today and told a photojournalist, Jerry Simonson, over in Orlando today, that, in fact, he was very confident that a meeting would be able to be arranged for Monday or Tuesday next week. But very unlikely it will happen tomorrow. What we don't know now is when and if -- when Jones is planning to go to New York or if he will not go, if he doesn't get that meeting set up beforehand -- Max.

FOSTER: A lack of clarity, indeed.

John, thank you very much, indeed.

The fact is, this story is getting attention, though, and at his first news conference in nearly four months, U.S. President Barack Obama highlighted the global impact of these kinds of threats.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is no doubt that when someone goes out of their way to be provocative in ways that we know can inflame the passions of over a billion Muslims around the world at a time when we've got our troops in a lot of Muslim countries, that's a problem. And it has made life a lot more difficult for our men and women in uniform, who already have a very difficult job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: Well, whether the event in question happens or not, just the threat has drawn outrage and demonstrations.

Let's get the latest reaction from around the world now.

First up, Atika Shubert with the mood here in London.

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Atika Shubert, just outside London. I'm here at the Ahmadiyya Mosque at Friday prayers on this Eid al- Fitr holiday. And leaders here have taken the initiative to pull together religious and community leaders to issue a joint protest statement against the Koran burning.

But while some of the leaders here say they are hopeful that the Koran burning will be called off, they are dismayed that it may come at the cost of moving the mosque near Ground Zero.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If true freedom of religion is to prevail, then one must never be forced to choose between protecting the word of God and the house of God, for both are sacred before God.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUBERT: Well, thousands of people came here for the last Friday prayers before Eid al-Fitr. And we had a chance to ask them what they thought about the Koran burning controversy in the United States.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All religions should be respected and their books should be respected. And it is not only for Islam. We have to respect the bible. We have to respect all the religions. It can only create chaos.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUBERT: Now, how will the Muslim community react here?

Well, that really depends on what happens next in Gainesville, Florida. We do know that there is a small protest being organized in front of the U.S. Embassy tomorrow, on September 11th. And they do say, the protest organizers, that they will burn the U.S. flag.

ATIA ABAWI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Atia Abawi in Kabul.

In Afghanistan today, sporadic protests in different parts of the country. The biggest protest took place in the northeastern province of Badakshan. After Eid prayers, around 500 Afghans made their way outside of a NATO base, where they were protesting a potential Koran burning in America.

The Afghan national police and the Afghan national army was sent out to contain the crowd, but instead fired into it, injuring at least five people. But the protests throughout the country today proof that this one pastor in Florida and his small congregation have sent ripple effects of hate and violence to the other side of the world.

REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Reza Sayah in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, where demonstrators chanted, "Death to Pastor Terry Jones" and "Shame on Pastor Terry Jones" on Friday. The demonstrations against what was to be Pastor Jones' plans to burn Korans at his small Florida church on Saturday. Religious groups here in Pakistan said they would go ahead with their protests against the church even if Pastor Jones scrapped his plans to burn the Koran.

And on Friday, we saw a few demonstrations. They weren't massive. About 1,000 people in Rawalpindi gathered for one protest, some people calling for jihad against America. This particular group was Pakistani Christians protesting against Pastor Terry Jones. They say they realize he has a small following, but they said it was important to send a strong message to America.

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You are looking at one of the many mosques in Indonesia. This is the world's most populous Muslim nation.

I'm Kyung Lah in Jakarta.

Now, right across the street from this mosque is a Catholic cathedral. A total of six religions are officially recognized by this country. Indonesia's president says that this country strives for religious tolerance. In a strongly worded statement, the president says that what they are doing is watching what is happening in Florida and hoping that the planned burning will not move forward. This country -- the president is hoping -- will be able to celebrate this weekend's Eid holiday peacefully and quietly.

FOSTER: Well, earlier, I spoke to Louis Susman.

He's the U.S. ambassador to the U.K.

And I put it to him that suddenly this pastor has catapulted himself to the international stage.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LOUIS SUSMAN, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UK: Yes, I think his importance and the platform that he's been given by the media totally is exaggerated and should have never happened. This is a -- a church with maybe 50 members not in a known denomination, a man that has not had training in -- as priest or a minister or a rabbi has, or an imam. And it's been blown out of proportion.

But at the same token, there's no question it's had an effect around the world.

FOSTER: That said, we've had demonstrations, haven't we, in Afghanistan?

We've got big debates happening here in London, where you and I are. We've got Indonesia's president actually setting -- saying that this situation threatens world peace.

So no matter how this started and the media role in that, it is now an international issue, which ambassadors like yourself are having to deal with.

SUSMAN: Well, I think that we're dealing with it as best we can. As I said before, all the governments I know of have spoken out against it. General Petraeus has spoken out against it. The president has spoken out against it. Mrs. Merkel has spoken out against it. Everybody has condemned this abhorrent act that this man is trying to leverage.

But we're going to have to deal with it and we're doing the best we can.

FOSTER: But some would suggest that all those voices that you've mentioned have actually added credence to this story. If General Petraeus, for example, hadn't stepped in when he did, maybe we wouldn't be talking about it right now.

SUSMAN: Well, but the facts are, what he was doing was causing a threat to our troops. And we wanted to make it very clear publicly, so hopefully enough public pressure, whether from his congregation or anybody he would listen to, would stop this abhorrent act that he's going to -- says he was going to do.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

FOSTER: Well, the story has attracted an enormous response from you, our viewers, of course. We've received more than 10,000 comments on our Web site alone.

Among them, medpirate, who describes himself as a U.S. Navy veteran and a Muslim. He writes: "Any Christian that condones this is no Christian at all, just as any Muslim that blows himself up in the name of Allah is no Muslim."

Szb86 likens the Koran controversy to the plans for an Islamic prayer center near Ground Zero, saying: "Constitutionally, he has ever right to do it, but that doesn't make it a good idea or the right thing to do."

And iamacat has this response: "Burning books don't kill U.S. soldiers. Terrorists kill U.S. soldiers."

Get your voice heard on CNN. Head to our Web site, CNN.com/connect. Don't forget to tell us your location.

Next up, does this controversy drive a divide between Christians and Muslims. Well, we'll look at the situation in Iraq, where some warn the backlash could end in bloodshed. And then we'll talk to another American pastor making headlines but for vastly different reasons -- how his church is embracing its Muslim neighbors.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: The Muslim community is not alone in its outrage over the American's pastor threat to burn the Koran. Christians, too, are protesting. But there are signs the controversy is increasing divisions between the two sides.

As Arwa Damon now reports, the backlash is already being felt in Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANON ANDREW WHITE, ST. GEORGE'S CHURCH: All these people's lives are in danger anyway. But now they're in serious danger.

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: (voice-over): On Friday in Baghdad, inside St. George's Church, the choir rehearsed. At the mosque next door, Muslims prayed. But the sense of serenity is once more in serious jeopardy.

WHITE: The message to this pastor in Florida is think about those of us who have been killed by your action. Think about what you're doing. What you are doing may seem nice in America, but here in Baghdad, it means death. I had their military come -- all the Iraqi Army colonel come the next before last and say they have threatened to blow you up and your church because of what's happened in Florida.

DAMON: Canon Andrew White has been in Iraq since 1998, a time when Islam and Christianity peacefully coexisted. But the Christian community was not spared the sectarian warfare that gripped the nation. Over the years, St. George's was hit half a dozen times.

WHITE: We used to have a million Christians in Iraq. We now only have about 200,000. And every week, more and more are leaving.

DAMON: He considers the children here his own, depending on them for support due to his multiple sclerosis. For their part, they depend on him just as much for guidance.

White believes that extremist actions, wherever they are carried out, do not reflect the majority.

WHITE: The majority of Muslims are not against us. And just yesterday, the Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani released a fatwa saying take time, think about what you're doing, do not affect the Christians or the churches here in Iraq. He spoke words of peace more than that Christian in Florida has spoken words of peace.

DAMON (on camera): Talk of peace amidst a threat of violence -- already in the Shia slum of Sadr City, some people are vowing that if this Koran burning takes place, there will not be a single Christian left alive in all of Iraq. Seventeen-year-old Neema (ph) and 20-year-old Daoud have these words for a pastor thousands of miles away.

DAOUD, STUDENT: I wish just to go to America for five minutes to talk to him only.

(CROSSTALK)

DAOUD: I would say, I would give all the fault to him. Everything will happen that's going to happen.

DAMON (voice-over): As Canon White watches his children, he says he can't help but wonder if it's the last time he will ever see them sing.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Baghdad.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

FOSTER: Well, where one church is deepening the religious divide, another is bridging it. In Memphis, Tennessee, a Christian congregation has embraced new Muslim numbers. The HeartSong Church hosted Ramadan when it became clear that a new Islamic center wouldn't be ready in time for the month-long celebrations.

I'm joined now by the church pastor, Steve Stone, who's in Memphis.

Thank you so much for joining us.

Just explain how, in your community, Christians and Muslims are coming together.

PASTOR STEVE STONE, HEARTSONG CHURCH: Oh, about a year-and-a-half ago, we heard that the Memphis Islamic Center had bought the land adjacent to us. And as soon as we could get up a sign -- it took us two or three days -- we put up a sign from our church saying, "Welcome to the neighborhood, Memphis Islamic Center."

And it took them a couple of days to see that, because nothing was on their land at the time. But when they saw it, they were overwhelmed and contacted us and -- and we've, over the past year-and-a-half, spent time getting to know each other and to the point now that we call each other brother and sister.

FOSTER: And you've worked really hard to build those bridges.

How much damage do you think is being done by what's going on with this pastor in Florida?

STONE: I think a tremendous amount of damage has been done. The last I've heard, he has decided not to burn the Koran and a -- and I hope that helps. But the hatefulness that is being expressed with that act is something that's foreign to me as a Jesus follower, because the Jesus I know and love preached love and gave us only two commandments and they were both about love, the second one being love your neighbor.

FOSTER: He is very clear, the pastor we're talking about, that he is talking about Muslim fundamentalism and not talking about mainstream Islam.

Do you think that's only an excuse for what he is doing?

STONE: Oh, not at all. You know, I would hate for people around the world to judge me as a Jesus follower by the KKK or skinheads.

FOSTER: And what do you think, then, will be the impact -- the long- term impact of this, because whether or not he's right, it is the story we're all talking about right now?

It's not your story. We are, at this particular time, talking about your story, but your story isn't getting headlines like his story.

STONE: No, it's not, but -- but it's getting a lot more press than I ever would have imagined when we first did that simple act of just inviting our neighbors to come into the house and have a roof over their heads.

So I -- I'm hoping, in time, that what will happen is that this will be good for America. Because there have been times in our past when we've struggled some with civil rights. And sometimes it's taken a -- an awful act like is going on in Florida right now for the country to go wait a minute, that's not who we are, and get back to who we really are, which is loving and kind and compassionate and tolerant people.

FOSTER: So hopefully a turning point.

Pastor Steve Jones, thank you very much, indeed, for your insight on that story.

Well, up next, they were confined, threatened and beaten -- our special on human trafficking hits the mountain villages of Nepal and the city streets of Kathmandu. Find out how the -- find out -- find out about the tragic stories our investigation has uncovered, after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: Welcome back to CONNECT THE WORLD.

This is a story the CONNECT THE WORLD team is committed to and covering in all its forms. We're on the trail of human trafficking, following one of the world's experts on the subject as he crisscrosses South Asia, documenting what he finds.

Now, what Siddharth Kara has brought us so far has been remarkable, from children working in his carpet mills to laborers toiling on roadside projects in New Delhi. He's looked at the shrimp industry on Bangladesh's coast. And in Nepal, he found an entire social class of women practically destined from birth to be trafficked into the sex industry.

Tonight, we have two equally shocking stories from Nepal.

The first deals with forced labor in stone breaking. It's a lucrative business for those who use the stones in construction in Kathmandu.

And then is human trafficking for carpet weaving, where even children were found to be working on the looms.

Becky spoke with Siddharth on Thursday, after he returned to India, and started off by asking him about what he uncovered.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SIDDHARTH KARA, HUMAN TRAFFICKING EXPERT: I hiked several hours into some (INAUDIBLE) areas of Nepal and found some villages in which the men, women and children were caught in forced labor in stone breaking. And basically the work they have to undertake is first go into the river and bend over and pick up large rubble, stones and mini boulders and cart them over to the shore. And then a guy with a big hammer breaks them into smaller stones, which are then taken up into the village. And they have little huts where they put the smaller stones in a plastic band and break them down into rubble size.

And the forced labor sets in when the contractor shows up. He comes and picks up these little stones and pays a very nominal wage, maybe 60 cents a day. But he doesn't let anyone leave the village or do any other work. And if they try, he withholds food supplies. And he also has some goons who keep an eye on things and make sure people stay in the villages doing this very difficult back-breaking work.

I saw children bent over picking up stones from the river -- many, many children and elderly, as well.

BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: You also investigated the carpet weaving industry in Nepal.

Tell us what you found there.

KARA: Yes, I visited several carpet looms right in the capital city of Kathmandu. Now, some of them just have sort of young adults and adults, four or five of them, maybe, sitting down and weaving a carpet. These big ones take two months or more to finish. And local NGOs confirmed for me that all of these carpets are shipped to the E.U. and the U.S.

Now, on some of the smaller looms, I found numerous children. They were typically trafficked from rural Nepal and some even from India. The conditions were terrible. They're confined in the building, hardly fed, work 18 or more hours a day. Mainly, they get a few dollars a month. They're routinely beaten and abused if they misbehave or fall asleep. And they also have a lot of injuries because they're using rusty scissors and claw tools to make these carpets. And you can imagine if you're beaten and exhausted and maybe 10 years old, you'd stab and cut yourself very often.

ANDERSON: You've been blogging now for four or five weeks for us. And last week, you wrote a very powerful blog on carfaced (ph) forced labor.

And here's a question I want to put to you from someone who read that blog. Myview2009 wrote: "Poverty is a major issue. But after decades of assistance by the international community to eradicate it, there has been no effect. How do we change this?"

KARA: Poverty is a central issue. But the aid across decades has been very inconsistent. This individual may be aware of the millennium development goals. This is a United Nations initiative. And one of the goals is to end extreme poverty by 2015. And 22 rich countries made a commitment to give a certain amount of foreign aid every year. Only three countries have met the mark. It's .7 percent of their gross national income.

And the other point to bear in mind, in addition to inconsistent aid, is that many of these countries actually pay more in interest on debt to rich countries than they receive in foreign aid. So the net transfer is still from poor countries to rich countries, which makes it difficult to end poverty.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

FOSTER: Unbelievable, isn't it?

You can read more about what Siddarth has found at CNN.com/connect. And you'll find his earlier blogs and interviews we conducted with him. And we want to know what you think, as well, particularly, what form does human trafficking take where you live and what do you think needs to be done to stop this crime?

On the trail of human trafficking begins at CNN.com/connect.

CONNECT THE WORLD will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: You're back with CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Max Foster in London. Coming up, it sounds like something straight out of a movie. School kids in Mexico learning what to do in the event of a shootout. But this is very real. We'll have a special report, up next.

Then, all week, you've been asking -- we've been asking you to get involved in our Global Connections segment, linking Malaysia and Sweden. It hasn't been easy, but one of your connections was simply out of this world.

Back down to Earth and onto the catwalk. Fashion isn't all about women. Up next, what men should have in their wardrobes. We talked to stylists to the stars.

All those stories ahead in the show for you, but first, let's check the headlines this hour.

The Florida clergyman who's planned to burn Korans has enraged Muslims around the world. He says the burning will not go ahead on Saturday, though. Pastor Terry Jones says he still hopes to meet with the New York imam planning to establish a mosque near ground zero. Jones had said he would cancel the Koran burning if the New York mosque site was moved.

Some of the latest protests against the Koran-burning plan have been in Pakistan. Banners read "Death to America." Other threatened the Florida pastor. Protests were also staged on Friday in Afghanistan.

A semi-official Iranian news agency now says the release of a detained American woman has been canceled because the legal process isn't finished. Earlier, Iranian officials had said Sarah Shourd would be freed on Saturday. Shourd has been held, along with two other Americans, for more than a year now without charges.

Trucks carrying an oil-drilling platform have arrived at a mine in Chile where 33 men have been trapped for more than a month. Rescue workers think the new drill will dig faster than the two already at work. Still, they don't expect to reach the miners until late November or December.

It's not unusual for schoolchildren to take part in emergency drills in case of a fire, an earthquake, or severe weather, perhaps. But what about a drill to learn how to dodge bullets? That's how serious the drug- related violence has got in the Mexican city of Juarez. Rafael Romo has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR (voice-over): At the blow of a whistle, children immediately drop to the ground and cover their heads. This is not a physical education exercise. For these children in Juarez, the most violent city in Mexico, it's a lesson that may save their lives.

ROBERTO ALVAREZ, CIUDAD JUAREZ POLICE DEPARTMENT (through translator): We teach them not to run.

ROMO (voice-over): Says this police officer in charge of the training, who adds that the most important thing is for kids not to panic and start running in all directions.

The security program was created earlier this year after a man was shot to death just outside a school. The school now looks like a military compound, with bars all around it and barbed wire over its walls.

This father of a student at that school says that the shooting happened during recess, when some parents bring snacks for their children and students get out to the playground.

ENRIQUE BELTRAN, FATHER OF STUDENT (through translator): Somebody could have been killed by a stray bullet.

ROMO (voice-over): This school principal is grateful that so far, no child has been killed or wounded, in spite of the frequent violence around schools.

"It is very unfortunate that our children nowadays have to live in this environment," says the school principal, who fully supports the security training program.

ROMO (on camera): There was some controversy surrounding the program when the governor of the state of Chihuahua, where Juarez is located, said it sent the wrong message. But school officials say their priority is to keep children safe, and this program may do just that if shooing erupts just outside the classroom. Rafael Romo, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: Well, there's a long history of shootings at schools across the globe. Among the worst on record was the 1996 massacre in Dunblane in Scotland. The gunman killed 60 young children and their teacher.

In 1999, the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado, two teens killed 12 classmates and a teacher in a meticulously planned attack.

In Finland in 2007, a high schooler in Tuusula killed seven fellow students and a teacher. The following year, 10 people were killed at another shooting at a school in Finland.

And last year in Germany, 15 people were killed by a teenage gunman in Winnenden. And in 2002, an expelled student killed 17 people in a shooting rampage in Erfurt in Germany.

All of these attacks ended with the killers taking their own lives, and we want to explore this issue a bit more, school survival skills in more depth as we speak to one of the leading US experts in this field. Kenneth Trump is the president of the National School Safety and Security Services organization. He joins us now from Cleveland in Ohio. Thank you so much for joining us.

An illustration, there, really, of how this can happen to any school anywhere in the world, but surely in Mexico, you've got to be more ready for it than you have in Finland, for example.

KENNETH TRUMP, NATIONAL SCHOOL SAFETY AND SECURITY SERVICES: Absolutely. Schools really have to look at the environment around them, both inside and outside in the broader community to determine what those threats to the safety of children may be. Obviously, in Juarez, Mexico, it's a situation with the drug cartels and the outside violence versus inside.

But elsewhere, here -- certainly, here in the States as well as around the country -- around the world in different countries, we're seeing the student violence also erupt. So you have to look at the threat from within and the threat from outside and realize that both are potentially real.

FOSTER: Yes, but the -- isn't it the case that if someone is determined to do this, you can't really stop them? So what advice can you give school?

TRUMP: We have actually prevented a number of incidents in the United States in particular. The key is relationships with students. First of all, there's a perception here -- at least, here in the States, that the answer is metal detectors in our schools.

The reality is that we -- number one way we learn about weapons from kids is from kids in school. One kid who has a trusting adult and tells that another student has a weapon. A lot of times, while the high profile incidents are serious, we often don't hear about those cases that have been prevented.

So what we advise schools is, first of all, is a balance between the hardware and the heart-ware. Take a look at having the relationships with students, mental health services, prevention programs with kids. And balance it out with physical security measures. We have school resource officers, police officers in school, who do a lot of preventative, proactive work. And in worst case scenarios, make sure that you train your school staff on emergency planning and how to respond to situations that can't be prevented.

FOSTER: Kenneth Trump, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us with your insight on that story.

Up next, we're asking you to make some truly Global Connections. We don't call it a challenge for nothing. We're linking Malaysia to Sweden. And it certainly has made your brains work, but one of the links you've come up with has got us rocking to some heavy music. That's just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: Welcome back to CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Max Foster. Time now for our Global Connections challenge. Each week, we're asking you to tell us what links two countries which seem at first to have nothing in common. We're looking for historical, cultural, and even personal connections, and this week proved more of a challenge.

We traveled from the lush rain forests of Malaysia to the Nordic cool of Sweden. Loads of you got in touch with us, though, and what you came up with may just be surprising. Here's Becky.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST (voice-over): Let's begin with a somewhat out-of-this-world connection.

SUE ANN LEE, MALAYSIAN: Hi, I'm Sue Ann from KL. The connection between Sweden and Malaysia is that both countries had their first man in space within a year of each other. Malaysia's astronaut was Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, while Sweden's was Christer Fuglesang.

ANDERSON (voice-over): And while the countries are nearly 6,000 miles apart, according to Ryan from Sweden, distance is no barrier for many tourists and business travelers.

RYAN GHADBAN, SWEDISH: The big connection between Malaysia and Sweden that I found was that each year some 40,000 Swedes visit Malaysia. It's all very exotic and, for someone who lives in Sweden, it's so far away, you just want to go there to see how it's like.

ANDERSON (voice-over): And who would be surprised that Swedish pop icons ABBA made an impact halfway across the world.

CLARA THAMBUSAMY, MALAYSIAN: If you were born in the 70s, you definitely would have had a favorite ABBA song. So -- I think I love all of the ABBA songs, really. I don't miss out anything. ABBA is really like a staple for us who were born in the 60s and the 70s.

(MUSIC - "Dancing Queen")

ANDERSON (voice-over): But "Dancing Queen" is only the beginning of the musical connections between these two countries.

KHAIROL IDHAM, MALAYSIAN: The big connection between Malaysia and Sweden is down here, we like heavy metal bands from Sweden. For example, we get Arch Enemy.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Even the Arch Enemy vocalist herself appreciates the heavy metal connection.

ANGELA GOSSOW, VOCALIST, ARCH ENEMY: Hello, I am Angela from Arch Enemy, and we love Malaysia and the fans there. And we just really hope to meet you all in 2011 when we go and rock out with you.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Malaysia might be known for its carpentry, but that isn't stopping people from heading to the local Swedish furniture giant.

KAI XUN HONG, MALAYSIAN: A lot of Malaysians love Ikea, especially the meatballs, just to mention.

ANDERSON (voice-over): And for 14-year-old Daniel from Malaysia, the connection is, well, more inherent.

DANIEL LISSBORG, MALAYSIAN/SWEDISH: My parents are both each from one country. My mom is here -- born here, in Malaysia, where I'm living now. And my father is born and raised Swedish. I'm very European in that sense.

But at the same time, I feel very connected to Malaysia and Asia and if I see something to do with either country on the television, I get really excited and I feel really proud, you know?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: All those, ABBA, meatballs, Ikea had to be mentioned, didn't it? Now, we're throwing a bit of blue blood into the mix, though, because the connection that really grabbed our attention is the close ties between the countries' royal families. They've hosted each other in recent years.

With that in mind, we've brought together from Kuala Lumpur, Tunku Naquiyuddin, and straight out of Stockholm, Elisabeth Tarras-Wahlberg. Tunku's father was the king of Malaysia when King Carl visited in 1996, and he even has a Swedish son-in-law. Elisabeth was part of that very royal entourage. In fact, the pair may have dined at the same royal banquet without even realizing it. Becky began by asking Tunku about that time.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TUNKU NAQUIYUDDIN, GRANDSON OF FIRST KING OF MALAYSIA: It was certainly a great honor when the majesties from Sweden came. I had the privilege of meeting them and attended the state banquet. And certainly, they were kept very busy visiting various sweet in Kuala Lumpur, including the Kuala Lumpur city center, which at that time, was the tallest building in the world.

(LAUGHTER)

NAQUIYUDDIN: It was a Twin Tower.

ANDERSON: Elisabeth, I know that you've been part of the royal court of Sweden for some 30 years now and part of an entourage that visited Malaysia. What do you remember of that trip?

ELISABETH TARRAS-WAHLBERG, FORMER MARSHAL OF THE ROYAL COURT, SWEDEN: Actually, I remember the Twin towers very well. But I also remember the nature, the sights, we visited an orchid garden.

ANDERSON: What goes into the planning of these sort of trips? First you, Elisabeth, and then, perhaps, Tunku, you'll explain from your side.

TARRAS-WAHLBERG: It's a lot of planning to get two heads of states' calendars to match. That can take a while, for a date to be settled.

NAQUIYUDDIN: And what sights to see. And obviously, Sweden is a modern city, but Kuala Lumpur is also modern. So, I think at that time, they thought, what are the sights to show to Sweden that Malaysia is proud of? And, of course, the Twin Towers happened to be one.

But also, Malaysia is a country that is -- prides itself on its rain forest. And so, the private part of the visit was actually the rain forest.

ANDERSON: Global Connections this week, looking at the connections between Sweden and Malaysia. One of those is that both countries have -- runs a monarchy. Tunku, some of our viewers pointed out that Malaysia runs a rotating monarchy. Can you explain how that works?

NAQUIYUDDIN: This is something that's evolved over time. If you look back, way back several centuries ago, the rulers in the past were sovereign and they reigned supreme in their own states. They were, in a sense, autocratic.

Here, we have a country with nine sovereign rulers, or sultans, if you like. Each of them independent and sovereign over the last few centuries. So when you become independent, you need to have one monarch, not nine monarchs. So it was a compromise, if you like, that one of them should become the monarch, and after five years, step down to allow another one to succeed.

Obviously, our family was very honored that the first king in 1957 to be elected was my grandfather.

ANDERSON: Your daughter, of course, is married to a Swede. Am I right in saying that, Tunku?

NAQUIYUDDIN: A Swedish national, yes. Yes, very proud. And it gives us an excuse to go to Sweden every year.

ANDERSON: Now, Sweden was the first country to introduce equal primogeniture. Please explain what that means.

TARRAS-WAHLBERG: That means that the oldest child to the monarch, regardless of sex, inherits the throne. The crown princess Victoria, who's now the heir to the throne, she was born in 1977. And in 1979 in May, her brother was born. So he was actually crown prince for seven months before the parliament took the second decision.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: Let's go on and on and hear a few more connections you've sent in to us. Lina writes, "I'm Swedish and I was in Kuala Lumpur very recently. I really liked it, because it was very different to what I'm used to."

Sue Ann from Kuala Lumpur says, "My boyfriend travels to Sweden once or twice a year. From his photographs, I've had the opportunity to see the country in a closer viewer whilst hearing about the extreme cold. Such a contrast from the scorching sun in Malaysia."

We're going to feature a brand new pair of countries on Monday. One sits in the middle of a desert, the other, surrounded by green, tropical jungle. If you want a sneak peak, you can check them out on our special section of our website, cnn.com/globalconnections. Let us know the stories you have that build the bridges between them, and we'll air some of the best of them this time next week. Again, that address is cnn.com/globalconnections.

Don't go away. We've got a lot more for you. The latest on what's hot and what's not in the world of men's fashion. I need to know. Have you got the look? Let's hope I do. A celebrity fashion stylist will probably be telling me otherwise. Find out after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: Trendy to stylish. What to wear and how to wear it? All this week, we're taking a look at fashion and its global influences as the catwalk season gets under way.

We kicked off on Monday in Istanbul where being a conservative Muslim woman doesn't necessarily mean being unfashionable.

Then we were in Kabul, where fashion is influenced by local traditions and culture. To many Afghans, what hat they wear sends a very powerful message.

Then we hit the runways of New York Fashion Week, where they've got the power to catapult a designer's piece into the shop floor or send it straight to the bargain basement.

Now, it's not just about women's fashion. We're going to take a look now what is in style for men this season. Becky's not here tonight, so she doesn't have a say in this one. With me now is a man who has styled such celebrities as Olivier Martinez, Sienna Miller, and Diane Kruger. His work featured in "Vogue," "GQ," and "Vanity Fair." This is celebrity stylist and fashion consultant Sasha Lilic. Thank you so much for coming in.

SASHA LILIC, CELEBRITY STYLIST: Well, thank you for having me here.

FOSTER: Is men's fashion interesting this year?

LILIC: Men's fashion is more interesting than ever, to be perfectly honest.

FOSTER: Why?

LILIC: The influences come all over the place right now. There's a whole influence on the look of 60s fashion revisited. The streamlined, sort of very thin and elegant look for men. The black tie is back again, and a lot of classic codes are being reused again within menswear and revisited by all kinds of designers.

FOSTER: Black tie. Let's have a look at Tom Ford, there. He's got black tie. We're going to look at a couple of other celebrities with black tie. There's not much you can do with it, is there?

LILIC: There's not much you should be doing with it, either, because that will push it toward the limits of penguins existence. So, black tie can just be revisited in a very modern way, where we didn't have the very dressy, stylish, classic man for a long time. And here we are again, coming up with a whole James Bond image and revisited by elegant dandy- slash-gigolo looks like Tom Ford, so --

FOSTER: We just had Tom Ford, we're doing Kane West, let's have a look at Colin Firth as well. Because he's got quite a reputation, hasn't he, for wearing suits well?

LILIC: He looks good in them, and that's why Tom Ford chose him, I guess, also, to do his film "The Single Man," because he really pulls them off nicely. And when you look at your little style icons along with it, I think they can definitely pick up something there.

FOSTER: OK. And in terms of black tie, does it actually change that much over time?

LILIC: Actually, it doesn't. It goes back and forth in terms of trends. That means it just picks up on what we see in a black tie and always have. Just the lapel get smaller, bigger. Same thing for the bow tie, and in between, it's worn by a woman.

FOSTER: In terms of casual, Mark Ronson epitomizes a certainly look right now --

(CROSSTALK)

LILIC: Absolutely.

FOSTER: As a new standard. We're going to have a look at him, because you're going to tell us what he represents.

LILIC: Well, he's the sort of neo-elegant revisiting the geek look. He wears his little suits on his little, tiny, 40 body, and it always look a bit like he is working in IT making a bit more of an effort, and actually comes across with a certain sex appeal that appeals a lot to girls.

FOSTER: He's just cool, though, isn't he?

LILIC: He's very cool. Very, very -- the new sort of "it" boy.

FOSTER: And in terms of the secret to it, sort of dressing way, you can't necessarily just go with a look, can you? I mean, dressing me as Mark Ronson, I don't think, would necessarily work. So you've got to wear something that's comfortable.

LILIC: Well, it would work. You'd look quite good with a thinner tie and a sort of fitted suit. And definitely keep the shiny shoes with it. I think it'd look great.

FOSTER: The shiny shoes, I've gone right? Have I done something right?

LILIC: Absolutely.

FOSTER: The rest of it. What do you think of the rest of it.

LILIC: It works.

(LAUGHTER)

FOSTER: But it's not necessarily fashionable.

LILIC: No, but you're a classic, and I think we should pull it off in a sort of Roger Moore kind of way.

FOSTER: What do you do, though, as bloke? This is quite frustrating going to work, we talk about black tie. If you've got to wear a suit, it's a tie, and it's a shirt, and it's a suit.

LILIC: Yes.

FOSTER: It's pretty limited, isn't it, really? So how do you look fashionable? How do you keep up-to-date with that?

LILIC: First of all, we're going back to the three-piece suit. Second of all, just adapt to sort of more slim-lined suits, higher waisted trousers, new fabrics --

FOSTER: Simon Cowell wears high-waisted trousers. No one else does.

LILIC: I never said empire, like Josephine.

FOSTER: Empire.

LILIC: You know, Napoleon's girlfriend. I'm talking actually a waist where the waist is, and not above.

FOSTER: OK.

LILIC: So I think already just adapting to these little codes of fashion makes it a bit more interesting and always give it a bit of personal note, a dandy influence, or something a bit more -- whatever you feel, actually, at that very moment.

FOSTER: And to turn to the business side of things. How much money - - I mean, it's always the women's fashion, really, that's the bulk of the business, the high fashion business, isn't it? Is the menswear making more money now for the business?

LILIC: They are the closet spenders, actually, yes. They make an enormous amount of money, especially for brands that target to a very, very classic man's market, i.e. yourself. Because brads like Hugo Boss are literally catering for a mass market with a high quality product. They spend an enormous amount of money, these men.

FOSTER: How much is a suit by Hugo Boss?

LILIC: I think we're talking about a grand up, down. Depending on which one you choose.

FOSTER: So, say, $1,000 to $2,000.

LILIC: Absolutely. And also don't forget the cosmetic industry. Men spend enormous amounts of grooming product that they've never spent before.

(CROSSTALK)

FOSTER: That's one thing I do know about. I've got an excuse.

LILIC: Sure, but --

FOSTER: I work in TV.

LILIC: A lot of men discovering deodorant, aftershave, that are new to mankind.

FOSTER: Women are happy about that sort of thing.

LILIC: Absolutely.

FOSTER: Sasha, thank you so much for coming in.

LILIC: Thank you very much for having me.

FOSTER: You've been sending us some compelling comments on the day's top story, meanwhile, the possibility that a Florida pastor will burn dozens of Korans on Saturday. We'll read some of those comments as we continue to CONNECT THE WORLD.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: Political campaigns come into a World in Pictures tonight. In Caracas, Venezuela, this poster of President Hugo Chavez cast its gaze upon a passerby. It's part of the campaign for the upcoming parliamentary elections on September the 26th.

Next-door in Brazil, Dilma Rousseff shows some love on the campaign trail. She is favored to succeed Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Lula is stepping down after serving two terms as Brazil's president.

And a forward-looking President Barack Obama faces up to the press and the midterm elections. With his approval rating slipping, President Obama has a very tough road ahead trying to help the Democrats keep control of the US Congress.

That completes your World in Pictures. But from obscurity to the center of an international controversy. American pastor Terry Jones and his threats to burn the Koran have prompted protests around the world, from Pakistan and Afghanistan to London, Indonesia, and beyond. It is an issue that has also attracted a huge response on our website. We've had more than 10,000 comments, many posted by serving US soldiers.

Among them, mrBadKitty, who says he's a medic who is returning to Afghanistan in December. He writes, "For every person I have to patch up, I'll remember the comment, 'We are burning the book, we are not killing someone.'"

Purpleheart8 describes himself as a serving American soldier and a Muslim. He writes, "I have served with many heroes and I know they will not agree with what Terry Jones is doing."

Veto968 doesn't support Pastor Jones but asks, "Are we going to become a country that changes our First Amendment rights to appease religion?"

Noora82 makes this point. "As a Muslim, I would burn a Koran if it was old and torn. I hope that Muslims don't take him seriously."

Get your voice heard on CNN. Head to our website, cnn.com/connect.

I'm Max Foster. That is it for the show on the TV. Do stay connected with us online, though. Lots going on there. "BackStory" is next, right after this check of the headlines.

END