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CONNECT THE WORLD

Libyan Civil War

Aired March 24, 2011 - 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: Admiral Gortney there speaking to us from the Pentagon, saying -- giving an update, really, about the military option there in Libya, crucially talking about the transition of power in the control structure from America over to NATO. Working on that could happen as early as this weekend, he said. We're hoping to hear from NATO some more details about how the new command structure would look. And we'll bring you back as soon as we get it.

Right now, though, we want to go to Tripoli and speak to Nic Robertson, who's just been hearing some explosions and anti-aircraft fire - - Nic.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Max, in the last hour, there were at least two loud explosions. One of the explosions, which came after a burst of anti-aircraft gunfire, the other one triggered that gunfire, was a very loud, heavy explosion, one of the loudest that we've heard since we've been here.

We've heard the Pentagon spokesman there describing the targets that the coalition has been going after here. Certainly overnight last night, the targets that seemed to be on that list included what appears to be a military base in the west of the city. Eyewitnesses report seeing smoke coming up from that. And military base -- at least a military airfield in the east of Tripoli, as well, seemed to be targeted overnight last night.

Government officials confirming that targets, including communications equipment, was hit there. The government officials also say that a fuel storage depot was also targeted.

The Pentagon spokesman saying that the -- these military structures they're going after, communications equipment, command and control, nodes of communication and ammunition stores, clearly trying to degrade the army's -- the government's army here, degrade the army's ability to -- to take the fight to the opposition in the towns of Misrata and Ajdabiya, because both of these towns are a very long way from Tripoli.

So this is what we've seen here and what the, very likely, the explosions were that we heard, either command and control or the supplies that would then go out or could be expected to go out to Misrata or Ajdabiya in the future -- Max.

FOSTER: At Washington from the Pentagon there, how a French jet fired on a Libyan plane. More details to come on that, we're told.

But what have you heard from your end?

ROBERTSON: Well, we know that around Misrata that the coalition is having some effect. We know that because an opposition spokesman in the city, yes -- both yesterday and today, has described the situation as becoming safer, yesterday saying that it was the safest in seven days. People have been able to get out to stores. We've seen video sent from Misrata. We're not able to go. We can't independently confirm it. But it shows what appear to be tank holes in what we're told -- tank shell holes in what we're told is the hospital there. And we heard from a spokesman for the opposition today, saying that the -- they hoped that the hospital in Misrata would get electricity connected to it today. Until now, it's been on generator power.

Government officials last night here said that they were working to reconnect electricity, communications supplies and water to Misrata. They said some about 50,000 people were without water in the city, some 10,000 without electricity. And what the government officials here were saying was that they hadn't cut these supplies off. These supplies had been damaged in the fighting and that they hadn't been able to get in and repair them, but now they were trying to do that.

Now, there seems to be a lull in the fighting.

So it appears around Misrata, at least, that the coalition air power is not only apparently the French taking out a fighter aircraft or a trainer fighter aircraft on the ground in Misrata, but, also, it appears that it is calming the fight, at least for now, as far as we can tell, actually, in the town of Misrata itself -- Max.

FOSTER: OK, Nic Robertson in Tripoli.

Thank you very much, indeed.

We'll be back with you if it gets more action in the skies there.

Stick around, because we're still waiting to hear from NATO about the new command structure of the Libyan mission; indeed, what the mission is altogether. Well, we'll be back in a moment with more on that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: Well, despite the international effort in Libya, the situation tonight is still dire for some civilians in that country, especially in the western town of Misrata. A doctor just told CNN that 109 people there have been killed in fighting over the past week. This amateur video is said to capture some of the recent gun battles.

The doctor said snipers are surrounding his hospital in Misrata right now, shooting at anyone who tries to leave.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We try to open a door. We make another door from the back of the hospital to take our patients by that ambulance. They even shoot the ambulance. So we make another door, create another door to take our patients out of this hospital.

We are stuck in this hospital now for three days. Nobody can leave in or out from or to the hospital.

Today in this morning, they shoot six people in front of the hospital and those six people all have been killed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: Well, the Libyan government is also reporting casualties, saying coalition air strikes have killed 100 civilians so far.

The U.N. secretary-general, though, calls Libya's government the aggressor in the war. Ban Ki-moon says the Security Council is prepared to take additional measures if the fighting doesn't stop.

Rebels still don't seem able to gain much ground in the east, much less advanced -- much less advance on Tripoli. In fact, the basic map of which side controls what parts of the country really hasn't changed all that much since the coalition mission actually began, thus leading to fears of a long, drawn out stalemate.

Let's bring in an opposition -- a Libyan opposition member, Guma El- Gamaty.

He is living here in London but is in frequent contact with the rebels there.

Thank you so much for joining us.

I know you've been speaking to people in just the last hour.

Sol what's the latest situation on the ground as -- as you've heard it today?

GUMA EL-GAMATY, LIBYAN OPPOSITION MEMBER: Well, if we start from the east and move westward, in Ajdabiya, it seems that the revolution fighters are making headway coming in from the east into the town and now pushing Gadhafi's forces to the western gates of the city. We even heard the news that the Gadhafi forces have been totally cut off from their supplies and communication and now they are trying to negotiate a surrender.

So I think that's a developing story. We will see what happens there. That could be a very positive story for the people of Ajdabiya and for the revolution forces.

That means that maybe Gadhafi's forces there could be totally neutralized, taken care of, and the city will be safe and no longer shelled.

FOSTER: We're hearing from the Pentagon how the military operation has been progressing over the last couple of days.

But you're getting a real sense now that that's helping your position, aren't you?

EL-GAMATY: I think the -- the international alliance, coalition attacks, for the last five days, have made some positive impact and...

FOSTER: Give us a specific example.

EL-GAMATY: Well, a specific example is now, for example, Benghazi last -- last Saturday, was saved from a major catastrophe. I think international alliance planes have hit a lot of Gadhafi's forces, preventing them from entering the center of the city, which is one million population. They could have killed tens of thousands there. Luckily, you know, the dead was about 120 or so. And -- and the forces have been repelled and pushed out. So that's a very clear example.

Also now, Ajdabiya, in Misrata, in Zintan. It is making -- it is making a difference. It's not allowing Gadhafi's forces to take the upper hand and continually shell the cities and cause havoc and hundreds and tens and thousands of -- of casualties.

So, hopefully, that is -- that is the whole idea of this...

FOSTER: It's a joint...

EL-GAMATY: -- this campaign.

FOSTER: -- it's a joint effort right now, isn't it, the coalition looking after the skies, as it were, but the rebels looking after the ground?

Why aren't the rebels doing better at taking back ground?

Why are they just holding their own?

EL-GAMATY: I think we are very optimistic that this will happen in time, maybe in a few days it will. But as I said, Ajdabiya looks good. If Ajdabiya is secure, then the revolution fighters, with the Libyan Army fighting along their side, will probably start pushing westward, hopefully to, again, Brega, Ras Lanuf. And I think we are hoping that in -- in a few days, maybe, or a week or so, Sirte will be a target. Hopefully, Sirte will give up and become liberated and then, hopefully, they will join us in Misrata.

FOSTER: But give you an idea of the sort of arms that they've got and where they're -- where they're getting supplies from, because the suspicion is they're being armed by the coalition, but you're not going to confirm that to me?

EL-GAMATY: No, no, no. Unfortunately, the -- the arms they have are still very, very basic, very, very elementary. They don't have the sophisticated and heavy weaponry which Gadhafi's forces have. But what they have is determination, very high spirit and -- and very high resolve.

So, also, the -- the Libyan Army who is fighting with -- with the revolution fighters in the east has got some -- some weapons. Also, they have, actually, captured a lot of weapons from Gadhafi's forces...

FOSTER: OK...

EL-GAMATY: -- which has now making -- being made into good use. That's happening in Ajdabiya. It's also happening in Zintan in the western mountains (ph).

FOSTER: All right, Guma El-Gamaty, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us on the program today.

Now, as activities plan a day of martyr's protests for Friday, Syria's government says the will of the people is paramount.

But will the regime in Damascus be the next to topple?

We'll check in with an expert, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: You're back with CONNECT THE WORLD, I'm Max Foster in London. Let's check the headlines this hour.

NATO members have reached a deal to take command of coalition military operations in Libya. According to diplomats at NATO headquarters in Brussels, the change of command could happen within the next few days.

Experts say the outlook is good for two workers at Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant who were hospitalized. The pair stepped into water contaminated with radiation. Experts say airborne radiation poses the biggest threat to workers.

Debt-ridden Portugal is looking for a new prime minister amid mounting fears it may have to ask for a cash bailout. Jose Socrates, who resigned as prime minister on Wednesday, is in Brussels trying to help Portugal back from the financial brink.

Ukraine has charged its former president, Leonid Kuchma, with abusive of power. The charges relate to the 2000 murder of a journalist. Kuchma has denied any involvement in the murder.

A powerful earthquake hit Myanmar on Thursday near the borders with China, Thailand, and Laos. It had a magnitude of 6.8. A strong aftershock followed about a half hour later.

A promise of reform in Syria. While bloody clashes rage, an advisor to the embattled president went before the media today to stress it's all about what the people want.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOUTHAINA SHAABAN, ADVISER TO SYRIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): There is no grudge between the people or the government. We believe in our plight.

So, let's make it clear that the -- as I told you this morning, Mr. Bashar the president is handling the situation. Any requests or any -- demands is on his hands. Whatever the people wanted, it's a subject -- is subject to being -- has been discussed already.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: Thursday's government statement comes as violence escalates between Syrian security forces and anti-government protesters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(GUNFIRE)

(MEN SHOUTING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: You can't, of course, miss that sound of gunfire on the video. It was posted on YouTube. Its language claims Syrian troops opened fire on protesters in the south on Wednesday. We're hearing conflicting reports on the death toll. Witnesses say anywhere from 15 to 100 people have been killed.

CNN can't independently confirm the video's authenticity. Despite repeated attempts, CNN has been denied permission to report from inside Syria.

Daraa in the southern part of the country is the focal point of the anti-regime rallies and the unrest. It's about 120 kilometers south of Syria's capital, Damascus.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MEN SHOUTING)

(GUNFIRE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: This is more amateur video fed in during the past 24 hours. Now, witnesses tell CNN army tanks are positioned inside Daraa. Some activists are calling for a day of martyrs protest to be held after Friday prayers. Mohammed Jamjoom is tracking developments for CNN from CNN Abu Dhabi.

Mohammed, we're bringing what material we can out of Syria, but what's the best picture, as you judge it, of the situation there right now?

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Very tense, Max, to put it as simply as possible. We're having -- actually hearing conflicting reports right now. Some reporting that there are thousands of anti-government demonstrators outside of that mosque in Daraa where so many people were reportedly killed yesterday.

Other reports on Syrian state television saying that there are pro- government loyalists out there, cheering on the remarks of the spokesman for the government earlier in the day, Bouthaina Shaaban.

Opposition figures and eyewitnesses and protesters that we've spoken with throughout the day have said they are intent to march tomorrow, to be out in the streets, to continue their protest, continue their demands.

And after that press conference earlier in the evening from Bouthaina Shaaban, we spoke to opposition figures, and they said this is just too little too late.

Basically, they said, "There was a time when we would have welcomed this talk, when we wanted simply reform, we were asking for reform. The government should have replied that way then. Now, when there's been so much bloodshed, it's simply too late. Once the live bullets started hitting these innocent victims, now we want the fall of the regime." That's according to opposition figures.

Now, Bouthaina Shaaban, in her remarks earlier, said what a lot of spokespeople for governments in this region have been saying in the past few weeks. She said that she blamed a lot of this on foreigners wanting to create havoc, said the media was behind this, said that there were distortions that were out there and said that the president was offering his condolences to all the people that have been harmed in the past several days of protest.

But nonetheless, as I said, what we're hearing from opposition figures and protesters is they continue to want to -- to be out on the streets to protest, to demonstrate, and they're calling for the end of the regime, there. Max?

FOSTER: OK, Mohammed, thank you very much, indeed. Well, will Syria's regime be the next to fall? To explore that question, I'm joined now via Skype by Khaldoon Alaswad, who is in the United States. He's an executive member of the Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies. Thank you so much for joining us.

Your idea of the situation in Syria, is it a direct reflection of what's happened in other countries in the region?

KHALDOON ALASWAD, DAMASCUS CENTER FOR THEORETICAL AND CIVIL RIGHTS STUDIES: Of course. Syria is not any different than Egypt and Tunisia but, obviously, the Syrian regime has proven that it is different Tunisia and Egyptian regime, it's more -- it looks more like the Gadhafi regime.

And even with the propaganda they're trying to put out there in the media, claiming that a gang went into the city and shot the physician who was trying to rescue the wounded in an Omari mosque, even a Gadhafi twisted mind cannot make up such a lie.

So, I think -- I think the Syrian people -- I'm not sure if they are asking for a regime change yet. We as a human rights organization, we're watching the situation really closely on the ground. And the people want reform. What they're asking for, the people in Daraa, you have general grievances and local ones, and they are now concentrating more on the general demands.

And top of those demands is the end of the emergency laws applied in the country since 1963. Second, they want the release of all political prisoners, and third, they want democratization of the constitution. And fourth, what they're asking for for allowing the people in exile, either voluntarily or forcefully to come back with no threats to their well-being in the country.

So, the situation, it is exactly the same. The demands of the people in the street are similar to the demands of the people in Egypt. They youth is actually the fuel and the leaders of this movement, and they are bringing the same demands the youth in Egypt --

FOSTER: OK. The Syrian leaders have actually promised reforms. They're also suggesting that there are some outside agitators that are whipping up some concern amongst these protests. But you're suggesting that it's not necessarily regime change they want. So, what -- what would satisfy the protesters?

ALASWAD: Well, as I said, first of all, I have to say that, outside agitators, this is an insult to the people in Daraa. The people in Daraa, Bouthaina Shaaban said that, because it's a border town, it's easy to smuggle weapons to it. And that's basically accusing all the people in Daraa as infiltrators and as agents to outside -- to outside forces.

That's not true, and that's an insult, and I think the people in Daraa and the people in Syria are -- deserve an apology from the president, the head of the regime himself, for this insult.

FOSTER: OK. Yes, OK --

ALASWAD: Second --

FOSTER: Khaldoon Alaswad, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us on a story about Syria. Obviously, watching that, because it seems to be the latest one bubbling up right now. Thank you very much for joining us.

Well, coming up, Japan's contamination crisis. The world says "no" to Japanese food amid radiation fears. What does this mean, though, for farmers?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: Japanese authorities have worked quickly to ease the panic over contaminated water. New tests show that radioactive iodine levels in Tokyo's tap water has dropped, and is now safe for babies to drink.

But this comes just hours after the government announced plans to distribute bottled water to tens of thousands of parents.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

YUKIO EDANO, JAPANESE CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY (through translator): This is a very low level of radioactive content, which will be not harmful for the health, even if consumed over a long period.

And for babies under 12 months, at this time, the Tokyo metropolitan government took this measure based on a very conservative set of standards. So, for other people, people other than babies, the radiation levels will have almost no effect.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: Well, earlier, Tokyo's tap water was said to contain radioactive iodine at twice the maximum level considered safe for babies.

Food has also been affected by this nuclear crisis. The Japanese government has slapped tougher restrictions on food exported from near the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant. It says farmers will be compensated, though.

And the list of countries banning or at least restricting and testing food products from northern Japan is continuing to grow.

Hong Kong suspended food and milk imports from five prefectures on Wednesday after radiation was detected in vegetable imports at the city's international airport.

India has also ordered radiation tests of Japanese food at its ports and airports.

Australia says it's taking precautionary measures consistent with international approaches.

That follows a US alert preventing milk, milk products, fresh vegetables, and fruit from four prefectures entering the country. The US was the first country to restrict Japanese food imports.

Two workers at the Fukushima plant have been taken to hospital after stepping in contaminated water. Experts say the outlook is good, though. But what about others working at the facility? Their job is dangerous, but critical if Japan is to avoid a nuclear meltdown. As CNN's Anna Coren explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Almost every day for the past two weeks, the world has been watching the crippled Fukushima Daichi power plant, hoping for confirmation that a nuclear catastrophe has been averted.

But with fires, smoke, and high pressure at troubled reactors, there have been major setbacks, and the situation is anything but stable.

KAMISAWA CHIHIRO, CITIZENS' NUCLEAR INFORMATION CENTER (through translator): "This is not under control," says Kamisawa Chihiro. "They have no idea how bad it is inside the reactors."

COREN (voice-over): The March 11 quake and tsunami completely knocked out power to the nuclear plant's cooling systems. Since then, TEPCO, the plant's owner, has been desperately trying to restore power while using hundreds of tons of seawater to cool the reactors and avoid a radiation meltdown. And experts say this creates another set of problems.

TADASHI YOSHIDA, PROFFESSOR, ATOMIC ENERGY SOCIETY OF JAPAN (through translator): "It's a risky situation," says Professor Tadashi Yoshida. "The salt can clog the fuel rods and damage the coating. It can also cause them to heat up and melt."

COREN (voice-over): More than 600 workers are rotating in shifts, staying just a few hundred meters from the reactors. They're working in harsh conditions, constantly putting themselves at risk.

COREN (on camera): As this crisis enters its third week, TEPCO has confirmed there are at least 17 workers who've exceeded their radiation exposure limit, but continue to work day after day, regardless of the potentially gave consequences.

HIRO HASEGAWA, TEPCO SPOKESMAN: The radiation level is very high, so I'm sure they are, in a sense, in a very tough situation.

COREN (voice-over): While TEPCO says it can't put a time frame on containing the crisis, some nuclear experts fear it may be years before this is over.

YOSHIDA (through translator): "The disaster won't end until they open up the pressure valve," says Professor Yoshida.

COREN (voice-over): And for the Three Mile Island crisis in the US, that took at least ten years.

But at the moment, there is no way of knowing, and for the people of Japan, that long wait could feel like an eternity. Anna Coren, CNN, Tokyo.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: Well, for those who survived Japan's deadly tsunami, the grim task of rebuilding lies ahead. The thought of such a task seems too much for some. But despite the devastation and the grief, people are starting to look to the future. CNN's Kyung Lah checks in on a community in the tsunami zone.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If you need a sign that life can return to Japan's devastated tsunami zone --

(BABY CRIES)

LAH (voice-over): Here's a small one. His name is Yuma, and hers, Yukia. Her still-weary mother went into labor in the car fleeing the tsunami. She barely made it to a hospital on high ground.

YUKA KOBAYASHI, TSUNAMI VICTIM (through translator): "After I gave birth to my baby," says this first-time mom, "I wasn't filled with joy, because I heard the news about so many victims."

LAH (voice-over): Kanako Suzuki, Yuma's mother, lost an aunt and her home in the tsunami, but gained a son.

KANAKO SUZUKI, TSUNAMI VICTIM (through translator): "I'm trying not to be depressed," she says, "because I have to move forward for my baby."

LAH (voice-over): Across the region, people are beginning to move forward, digging out their homes, finding precious possessions. "A picture," he tells me. A part of his family's history saved.

Food is getting to the victims, many having their first hot meal since the tsunami left them homeless.

And the most resilient? The young. Laughter filling this muddy evacuation center. A moment to play and be children.

LAH (on camera): When entire cities up and down the northern Japan coastline looks like this, the natural question is, how do you begin to rebuild? City leaders say the answer is actually quite simple. You have to start somewhere.

LAH (voice-over): Not that's easy, says Kamaichi City spokesman. The tsunami flattened more than half of his city.

DAIJI MURAI, KAMAICHI CITY SPOKESMAN (through translator): "I don't want to lose my hometown. I want it to come back. We won't give up," he says.

LAH (voice-over): A fighting spirit among the survivors, who pledge to begin the next chapter in the rebirth of a region. Kyung Lah, CNN, Morioka, Japan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: Well, when we come back, the new order of the religious nuns. If you're losing faith, you may not be alone. Find out why organized religion could soon become a thing of the past.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: A team of mathematicians has used numbers to determine the fate of organized religion. Using census numbers going back a hundred years, the group predicts that religion will vanish from nine countries. To tell us more about it is our religious affairs contributor, Richard Greene.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RICHARD GREENE, CNN RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS CONTRIBUTOR (on camera): That's right, Max. This study says there are nine countries around the world where religion is going to fade out and eventually become all but extinct. It's countries like Australia, Switzerland, Canada.

Now, take a look at the Netherlands. It's already one of the most secular countries in the world. Forty percent of people today already say they don't have a religion. This study predicts that by 2050, more than 70 percent will say that.

Ireland might be a bit of a surprise in this study. It's a very Catholic country. Fifty years ago, everybody in the country said they had a religion. Nowadays, one in twenty say they don't.

Now, this study can't make predictions about the United States the same way that it does about the other countries, because the United States doesn't ask about religion on the census. They just don't have enough information to be able to make the projections. But other studies have found "no religion" is the fastest growing religious group in the United States.

Now, what's causing this? They assume -- the people who made the study assume that more popular groups become more popular over time. The more people say they have no religion, the more people want to join the "no religion" group.

Now, they're only talking about nine countries, here. And it is a trend that is definitely not going on worldwide. Islam is growing worldwide, Christianity is growing worldwide. The Vatican, for example, says that as of 2008, there were around 1.2 billion Catholics in the world. That's up about a percent from the year before.

What you need to understand is that the population is shifting. Consider a map of the world where each continent's size reflects its Catholic population. This is how the world looked in 1950, with nearly half of all Catholics living in Europe. Latin America accounted for a third of the total. Africa and Asia, not even 10 percent between them.

But look at the difference in 2000. Europe's share has been cut almost in half. Latin America is now home to the lion's share. Asia is up, as well, and Africa has seen its proportion grow fourfold. Max?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: Well, there you are. We're going to delve a bit deeper into this discussion on religion, now. It's not straightforward. Joining me is Timothy Shah, he's the author of "God's Century: Resurgent Religion and Global Politics." And your argument is pretty much the opposite, isn't it?

TIMOTHY SHAH, POLITICAL SCIENTIST: That's right. Yes, really, religion is booming around the world. God is making a remarkable comeback for all kinds of reasons. The same kinds of forces that were supposed to bury God are actually strengthening God and religious believers around the world, Max.

FOSTER: What are the forces?

SHAH: Well, for one thing, demography. There's a lot of data to show that religious people are just having more babies. So, the trend suggests that, even in Europe -- Europe could be more religious at the end of the 21st century than it is now because even native-born Europeans tend -- who are religious tend to have more babies than secular Europeans.

And that's also true of more -- often more religious immigrants in Europe. So, the religious and secular populations are not just sort of standing still, and these populations are not just affected by, for example, religious people stopping going to church. But these populations are also affected by fertility, and that's true in other parts of the world, as well, Max.

FOSTER: But what the study seems to show is, whatever the general trend across continents and the world, there are these pockets forming, which are becoming increasingly secular. Can you not see a future where the pockets grow? Because what Richard was suggesting was that it does seem to self-perpetuate, once you have one of these pockets.

SHAH: Yes. I think there certainly is a lot of evidence that those particular countries that are the focus of this study are, certainly, moving in a secular direction.

But there are some other limitations of this study, besides the fertility issues and immigration issues that are left out.

Another limitation is just that religious groups have often proven themselves to be very adaptable. They offer new methods for reaching out to people, new methods of sharing the faith or sharing the message. They're often very innovative in the use of technology. Religious groups, in other words, don't just stand still, but they often invent new ways of reaching out to people.

So, that's also true in Europe. The Church of England has found effective ways of reaching out to people through what they call the Alpha course, which has been attractive to lots of people who have otherwise been unchurched.

In the United States, there have been a number of churches and movements that have been quite effective in reaching out to people who are unaffiliated. So, we shouldn't assume that present trends always continue. Religious groups can be effective in using new methods.

FOSTER: And within the different types of religions, what would say is the most stark change that we're seeing right now as these religious groups are, effectively, competing for a bigger base?

SHAH: Well, I think you're seeing a lot of growth of Pentecostal groups and Charismatic groups, including in Western Europe.

And you're often seeing something that is not really dealt with very effectively in this study. As Richard Greene had pointed out, a premise of the study is that more popular groups just become more popular.

FOSTER: Yes.

SHAH: Well, that's not always the case. Oftentimes, people want to join a group because it's not the popular group --

(CROSSTALK)

FOSTER: Timothy, we have leave it for now --

SHAH: Because it has some --

FOSTER: -- I'm so sorry, because we're coming to the top of the program. But you've illustrated the fact that it's extremely complicated. But thank you very much --

SHAH: Yes, it is, indeed.

FOSTER: -- indeed, Timothy Shah, for joining us. I'm Max Foster, that is your world connected. Thank you for watching. The world headlines and "BackStory" follow this short break.

END