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CONNECT THE WORLD

Egyptians Storm U.S. Embassy In Protest Over Anti-Islamic Movie; Andy Murray Ends 76 Year Drought, Wins U.S. Open

Aired September 11, 2012 - 16:00   ET

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


ZAIN VERJEE, HOST: Tonight on Connect the World, turn the page and forget the past, the brother of al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri offers to mediate a peace deal with the west.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN London, this is Connect the World.

VERJEE: In an exclusive interview, Mohamed al Zawahiri spells out his proposal for peace, but his conditions are likely to be too tough to swallow.

Also this hour, how the leaders of France and Germany are feeling the heat as voters vent their anger over the EuroZone crisis.

And...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDY MURRAY, TENNIS PLAYER: It's just been such a long way for everyone that I'm glad I finally managed to do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERJEE: Andy Murray tells CNN of his relief after becoming Britain's first male grand slam champion in 76 years.

But first, violent scenes in Cairo tonight as protesters climb the walls of the U.S. embassy and tore down U.S. flags. CNN's Ian Lee is in Cairo. He joins me now on the line. Ian, why are they protesting?

IAN LEE, CNN INTERANTIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They're protesting out of anger over a film that they say puts their prophet Mohammed in a bad light. They say this film insults Islam and they're blaming the Americans, the Americans who are involved in it, for insulting Islam. So, they're taking to this to -- they're taking to the street (inaudible)...

VERJEE: Journalist Ian Lee in Cairo reporting. Sorry we lost that connection.

Well, you know the protests come on a somber anniversary in the United States. It's been 11 years since 9/11, the day that would forever change the world.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Joseph Michael Sisilak (ph)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John P. Scallop (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Francis Joseph Skidmore (Ph).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERJEE: People across the U.S. paused today to remember those killed in the September 11 attacks. Names of victims were read allowed at Ground Zero in New York near the spot where two hijacked plans destroyed the World Trade Center.

Things stopped for moments of silence at the exact times the plans hit. Moments of silence were also observed at the Pentagon, another target of attack, and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania where a fourth hijacked plane crashed. Four attacks in all, nearly 3,000 lives lost.

President Barack Obama and the First Lady Michelle made low key appearances at several memorials. Mr. Obama said America emerged from the tragedy stronger than ever.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As painful as this day is and always will be, it leaves us with a lesson, that no single event can ever destroy who we are, no act of terrorism can ever change what we stand for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERJEE: A lot has changed in 11 years, including the leadership of al Qaeda, the terror group responsible for the attacks. Ayman al Zawahiri is now the one in charge after U.S. commandos killed Osama bin Laden last year.

Our Nic Robertson had an exclusive interview with al Zawahiri's brother who is proposing a peace plan of sorts. Nic joins me now with more details.

Nic, what was he like? What did he say?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORREPSONDENT: He's a quiet man, but he's a man who has clearly has a lot of inner strength, he's a man that has spent 14 years in jail. And like many people like that, they're very convinced about what they believe. And they seem to be very patient.

But why should we listen to him? Why will other people listen to him? He is one of -- was one of the principle jihadists in the Egyptian jail. He didn't ever sign an agreement with the government like many others. So that still keeps him in a good light with Islamists and jihadists. And even now, the Egyptian government is using him in negotiations with Islamists and jihadists in the Sinai in Egypt. So he's somebody who still seen, and I wouldn't say revered, but respected by jihadists.

So the terms that he lays out are terms that we felt worth listening to.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTSON: If the man next to me looks familiar, it's because he is. He is the brother of al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri. We're meeting Mohammed al Zawahiri because he says he has a plan to end al Qaeda' jihad against the west.

"I only speak as a mediator for the Islamic movement, I don't represent certain groups. My role as a mediator between the west and them," he says. "Our people like death the same way others like life. But we don't want to get into this endless cycle of violence. We like for others and other to live peacefully."

Mohammed al Zawahiri was released from Egyptian jail barely five months ago after serving 14 years on charges including terrorism, charges he denies.

Before jail, he and his brother were fellow jihadists, still share the same ideology, he says.

"There is no difference between my brother's thinking and mine. The betrayal of my brother's ideologies and mine that its bloodthirsty, barbaric, or terrorist is not true at all," he says.

His six page proposal offers a 10 year truce if U.S. and west stop interfering in Muslim lands. U.S. to stop interfering in Muslim education. U.S. ends the war on Islam. The U.S. to release all Islamist prisoners. It also calls on Islamists, too. Stop attacks on western and U.S. interests, protect legitimate western and U.S. interests in Muslim lands. Stop provoking the U.S. and the west.

It is similar to a proposal bin Laden made in 2004.

Then came the attack in London in 2005. Is your proposal like this if it isn't accepted then there's more attacks?

"I am sorry to say those who caused the London attacks were the west, because the oppression was continuous. Either you stop the oppression or accept reconciliation," he says. "You have to be logical if you want to live in peace, then you must make others feel that they will live in peace."

To make his point, Zawahiri leads me to a protest outside the U.S. embassy.

And this is the protest calling for the release of Sheik Abdul Rahman.

The so-called Blind Sheik, jailed for his part in the 1993 World Trade Center attack in New York.

We meet the Sheik's son.

And when you call for prisoners to be released as part of your document, you're talking about Sheik Abdul Rahman.

MOHAMMED AL ZAWAHIRI: Yes, of course. It's a (inaudible)

ROBERTSON: The first one.

ZAWAHIRI: As proposed.

ROBERTSON: If Sheik Abdul Rahman is released, this can help improve the relationship. How does that work? Why does it change people's minds?

"Because," he explains, "it reduces the impression of U.S. arrogance."

Zawahiri denies he is in contact with his brother, but says he could be if the U.S. allows it.

Do you think it's realistic that the United States would release somebody like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the man accused of masterminding September 11?

"As you see, Sheikh Mohammed's hand is stained in blood of the Americans," he says. "We also see the hands of American leaders and soldiers stained in the blood of the Muslims. Those in prison with the Islamic movement would also be released. We want to turn a page and forget the past."

Zawahiri has faith his brother wants to turn the page, too, but it wouldn't be the first time the terms were unimaginable for western leaders.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

And for an example of just how much Mohammed al Zawahiri is listened to by jihadists and Islamists, in the demonstrations in Cairo today where you saw us in that video meeting with Abdul Rahman's son, that's where those protests going on right now. And in his Twitter feed in the last day or so Mohammed al Zawahiri calling on supporters to come out and go there.

So he has that support of the Islamists. And that's perhaps what makes him valuable as an interlocutor.

VERJEE: So he's still a force.

ROBERTSON: Still a force.

VERJEE: CNN senior international correspondent Nice Robertson, thanks so much. Great interview.

We just want to return to the stop story. As we were telling you, protesters are climbing those walls of the U.S. embassy and tearing down U.S. flags.

Ian Lee joins us by phone again.

Ian, give us more information about what exactly is happening now.

LEE: Right now the situation has calmed down a bit. Security forces have cordoned off the front of the embassy. So they're separating the embassy from the protesters. They don't seem to be angry with the security forces. It seems like things have calmed down for now since earlier when we saw protesters storm the wall and rip down the American flag and burn it.

VERJEE: Why are they protesting?

LEE: Well, the protest is over a movie, a film that was released, that the protesters say insults Islam, it insults the prophet Mohammed. So they say they're there to voice their anger at the Americans who are behind this film. And they said that they can't just stand by and watch this happen.

But I also want to point out that this embassy, the breaching of the embassy tonight is -- has happened -- and happened at other embassies since the revolution. This is definitely a test for President Mohammed Morsi to see if he can bring the security and secure the foreign embassies of other countries.

We've seen the Israeli embassy broken into. We've seen the Syrian embassy broken into. Now the perimeter of the American embassy is broken into. So this is definitely a test. And this is the first time under President Mohammed Morsi's leadership an embassy has been broken into, but it's definitely a black eye for him and looks bad for the security situation in Egypt.

VERJEE: Ian Lee, thank you so much.

Still to come tonight, as the number of Syrian refugees leaving the country reaches a record high, UN ambassador Angelina Jolie visits a refugee camp in Jordan. And he has firsthand their tragic stories.

And the duke and duchess of Cambridge are on their second official overseas trip. Coming up, we're going to tell you about the honor for Prince William's late mother, Princess Diana during their trip to Singapore.

All that and much more when Connect the World continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VERJEE: You're watching CNN. And this is Connect the World with me, Zain Verjee. Welcome back.

We have reached a milestone that shows just how wide an impact the fighting in Syria is having. For the very first time in the crisis, the UN Human Rights Commissioner reports that more than a quarter of a million people have fled the fighting there. Now this is being felt by every single one of Syria's neighbors.

Take a look at this. These numbers reflect all Syrians needing help, not just those registered by the UNHCR. As you can see, the countries taking most of the displaced people are Turkey and Jordan, though Lebanon is getting the most relative to the size of its own population.

On Tuesday, the actress and UN goodwill ambassador Angelina Jolie visited a camp in Jordan where she heard some really heartbreaking stories. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANGELINA JOLIE, ACTRES: As a mother, certainly, the amount of innocent children that are reported dead, the amount of innocent children I've met here who are wounded and unaccompanied, with their parents being killed and now they're on their own, it's impossible to imagine any mother standing by and not stepping up and doing something to prevent this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERJEE: Here's a look now at some of the other stories connecting our world tonight.

12 people have been killed in a car bomb attack in Yemen's capital Sanaa. The apparent target was Yemen's defense minister who according to state media escaped the blast. Officials say Mohammed Nasser Ahmed (ph) had just left a cabinet meeting at the prime minister's office. It comes one day after Yemeni forces said they had killed al Qaeda's number two man in the Arabian peninsula.

Prosecutors in Egypt have ordered the arrest and extradition of the former prime minister Ahmed Shafik. Authorities are saying that he was tied to corrupt land deals involving the sons of the former president Hosni Mubarak. Shafik was the last prime minister under Mubarak. He left Egypt in June for the United Arab Emirates after losing to its current leader Mohammed Morsi.

The expelled leader of the ANC youth league is rallying tens of thousands of angry miners in South Africa and stoking fears that there may be an escalation in an already deadly labor dispute. Julius Malema addressed thousands of supporters at a Johannesburg stadium and called for a nationwide walkout until the miners get a three-fold pay increase. South Africa's main trade unions accused him of exploiting the miners' emotions as well as inciting tension.

The former French prime minister Dominique de Villepin is being held for questioning over his involvement in an alleged 1.6 million euro embezzlement scheme. Now according to investigators one of his close friends admitted to getting kickbacks while he was the head of a prestigious hotel and restaurant club. Police phone taps appear to show the former prime minister helped cover up the fraud and then intimidated the staff into just keeping quiet. De Villepin denies any involvement.

The main poised to become the country's next president is nowhere to be found. The vice president Xi Xi Ping hasn't been seen in public for 10 days. He's widely expected to succeed President Hu Jintao as the head of the ruling Communist Party in October before assuming the presidency early next year. In China, his absence is stoking rumors about his health. So far the Chinese government has remained quiet.

We're going to take a really short break, but when we come back Andy Murray, wow, he tells CNN how it feels to end a 76 year drought in men's tennis for Britain. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VERJEE: Hi, you're watching Connect the World live from London. Welcome back. I'm Zain Verjee.

The last time a British man won a major tennis championship, Jesse Owens was the standout performer at the Berlin Olympics. Andy Murray ended the 76 year wait by winning the U.S. Open in a grueling final match.

Patrick Snell joins me now from CNN Center for reaction from the man of the moment. Patrick, we all know that's not you. I watch that actually to really late. It was amazing match.

PATRICK SNELL, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: It was great viewing, wasn't it? Perfect hours for me, selfishly here in the U.S. They finished around 9:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. What a terrific performance from both players, let's pay tribute as well, Zain, to the defending champion from Serbia Novak Djokovic who fought so hard having come back from two sets down.

But this -- what really impressed me about Murray was his never say die attitude. It looked at two sets to love he was going to coast to victory. He let his rival back into it. I thought he would blow the fifth set. He didn't. He dug deep. And he has one very relieved man right now as he spoke afterwards, he's been doing what he does best, what he would like to have done best.

He got a taste of the glory, if you like, at the London Olympics recently when he won gold in the men's title match against Roger Federer. Now he's showing that -- look at that -- this is Central Park in New York City, in Manhattan on Tuesday.

After his momentous victory, he spoke with World Sport's Don Riddell.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DON RIDDELL, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: It's not just you who has wanted this, the whole country it seems has wanted it, because it's been 76 years since Britain has had a male major champion. What's it been like to have had that much weight on your shoulders?

MURRAY: You know, it's just been such a long wait for everyone that I'm glad I finally managed to do it, but yeah, the pressure with each year that you don't win one and with each final or semifinal that you lose and that pressure builds a little bit more. So it was great to do it yesterday.

RIDDELL: You had some very, very high profile supporters, notably Sean Connery. Did he give you any advice?

MURRAY: He didn't, actually. I saw him after the semifinal match. This was the first time I'd met him, but he actually spoke to him the first time when I was 18 years old. He called me. And that was very, very surreal. I never managed to meet him. And it was nice to have him there supporting. Sir Alex Ferguson was there as well. And you know, they're two, obviously, Scottish people I have a lot of respect for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SNELL: It's incredible. Andy Murray, congratulations to him at the fifth attempt, Zain, he's finally got his hands on a first ever Grand Slam title.

VERJEE: Finally. Thank goodness for that. He did an amazing job.

You know, his beloved country is in action in World Cup qualifying at the moment. How exactly are they doing? Are you following that?

SNELL: We are. And a good story sort of going into that final is that Scotland, his country, were playing Serbia, which is Novak Djokovic country over the weekend. And both players actually getting together. It shows how good friends they are to watch that match together that particular game which ended in a goalless draw.

But Scotland are in action right now. This is in FIFA World Cup qualifying. And I can tell you, well, let's just say Scots would be expecting to meet Macedonia in that match. They're in the second half. And it's still 1-1. In fact, Macedonia were leading. But Kelly Miller who plays in the U.S. Major League for the Vancouver Whitecaps, he scored just before halftime. But Scotland some way to go. And Andy Murray, I'm sure, will be watching that one very closely indeed.

I can tell you, world champion Spain won earlier this day Tuesday 1-0, a late goal from Soldado in the Republic of Georgia.

Back to you on a momentous, momentous last 24 hours or so if your name is Andy Murray and British tennis fans must be so relieved. I bet you where you are there in London has just been crazy.

VERJEE: Really relieved, really thrilled. Thank goodness for that. Everyone saying it was awesome.

Thanks, Patrick.

We're going to have World Cup qualifying highlights and lots more from Andy Murray's chat with Don Riddell on World Sport. That's in about half an hour or so from now. You'll want to watch it.

You're watching Connect the World on CNN. Still to come, out with the old and in with the old. Find out why that's the view of some voters in France.

They call him the clown prince of politics. We find out why comedian Beppe Grillo is winning the hearts and votes of Italians.

And also royal flower power. The duke and duchess of Cambridge visit a botanical garden in their trip to Singapore and have an orchid named in their honor. More on that when Connect the World continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VERJEE: A really warm welcome to our viewers across Europe and around the world. I'm Zain Verjee. These are the latest world headlines from CNN. Protesters have scaled the walls of the U.S. embassy in Cairo. They are angry about a film produced in the U.S. that they believe insults the Prophet Mohammed. The protesters tore down U.S. flags and replaced it with others showing Islamic emblems.

Former Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik is now a wanted man. Prosecutors have ordered his arrest and extradition from the United Arab Emirates. He's accused of corruption during the Hosni Mubarak era. Shafik was runner-up in Egypt's presidential elections.

The UN refugee agency says the number of people fleeing Syria is now more than 250,000. UN goodwill ambassador Angelina Jolie visited a refugee camp in Jordan and called for more help for the countries helping out the displaced people.

Yemen's defense minister escaped an apparent assassination attempt, but 12 other people were killed when a car bomb ripped through his motorcade in Sanaa. It comes just a day after Yemen's army said it had killed a top al Qaeda leader.

Let's return now to our top story. Protesters climbing the walls of the U.S. embassy and tearing down US flags. Nazih El-Naggary is the deputy spokesman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry. He joins us now by phone from Cairo. First of all, how could something like this happen?

NAZIH EL-NAGGARY, DEPUTY SPOKESMAN, EGYPTIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY (via telephone): Hello?

VERJEE: Yes?

EL-NAGGARY: Hello?

VERJEE: Your reaction to how something like this could happen. Go ahead.

EL-NAGGARY: Yes, well, these are protests. The breaking into the embassy, of course, is something that is unacceptable, but how could this happen? This is -- the way -- this is an expression of feelings towards something that is deemed to be an insult to Islam.

Of course, a peaceful demonstration would have been acceptable to anyone, I guess, including to the United States. But the problem is with breaking into an embassy and threatening the security of a diplomatic mission, that is what is unacceptable.

VERJEE: This doesn't look very good for the president, Mr. Morsi. This is a bit of a test for him. This is a foreign embassy, and the country is unable to secure it. Are you concerned about that?

EL-NAGGARY: Well, the country is doing -- right now at this very moment, all the concerned authorities in Egypt are working on securing the embassy, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has had contact with other ministries who are working hard to control the situation. And I guess this is going to get under control very, very soon.

VERJEE: What about -- what about the confidence that we should have or diplomatic staff should have right now in Egypt? This is the US embassy. Previously to Mr. Morsi coming into power, the Israeli embassy was attacked, the Syrian embassy was attacked. Should diplomats be worried?

EL-NAGGARY: Well, diplomats in Cairo have been following the situation in Egypt for a while. There has been a revolution, things have changed, and things are extremely sensitive and volatile, sometimes, when it comes to a certain number of issues in Egypt.

But the government -- the situation -- the political situation has -- stabilized to a certain degree, and it's getting better. With time, we have had elections and the political transition has advanced to a great extent, which is leading to more stability.

Events like this are extremely deplorable, and we have to work on getting things under control as quickly as possible.

VERJEE: Thank you so much, Nazih El-Naggary, the deputy spokesman from the Egyptian Foreign Ministry. We're looking at pictures here of a situation that really showed some violent scenes in Cairo where protesters climbed the walls of the US embassy and tore down US flags.

All this over a film they said was insulting to Prophet Mohammed, which raises a lot of questions about diplomatic staff as well as diplomatic senses based their in Cairo.

We're around 12 hours away from a court ruling in Germany which could completely derail the EU's efforts to contain the eurozone crisis. It's just one of several crucial decisions this week that'll shape the future of an entire continent. Fred Pleitgen joins me now from Berlin. Fred, first of all, what's this ruling and why is it so significant?

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a ruling, Zain, by the German Constitutional Court on whether Germany can actually participate in the ESM or European Stability Mechanism, which is, of course, the permanent bailout fund for the eurozone.

And one of the things that is in question here is whether or not the ESM violates the rights of Germany's parliament as far as budgetary rights that they have. So, certainly it is a ruling, as you say, that bears a lot of weight. It's a very difficult one to make.

And one of the things that many people expect is they don't believe that the Constitutional Court is actually going to vote the ESM down. They believe they're going to say yes, the German parliament can go through with the ESM.

But there are going to be certain caveats where the German parliament will have veto rights on whether or not Germany, for instance, gives bailout money to countries like Spain. So, it is certainly a very difficult ruling, one that a lot of people are going to be looking at very closely.

But if we look at the history of the German Constitutional Court, it has in the past never fully voted down a measure aimed at increasing European integration. That, of course, is exactly what the ESM is, Zain.

VERJEE: Fred Pleitgen, thanks so much. Many Germans are just fed up of being Europe's pay master, and that's putting real pressure on Chancellor Merkel's popularity.

Now, just keep in mind, Europe's economic crisis has already cost several leaders their jobs, including the former French president, Nicolas Sarkozy. But now, his successor is really feeling the heat, as Jim Bittermann reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the Ervor air compressor plant in the suburbs of Paris, company director Laurnet Vronski is proud of how he and his 50 employees have been able to keep a small part of the country's industrial base firmly rooted in France.

By specializing, the company has avoided the kind of outsourcing that has taken place in other industries. Nonetheless, as the new government of Francois Hollande has taken its first measures to redirect the French economy, Vronski has seen more and more of his fellow business leaders think about and actually leave the country.

LAURENT VRONSKI, MANAGING DIRECTOR, ERVOR: It's not only the big CEOs with fat paychecks that are leaving the country, it's all those people with small businesses because they think it's easier to do business and start a business around here, but not in France.

BITTERMANN: Vronski says the government is making the unemployment situation worse with policies which raise the cost of labor by reimposing a tax on overtime work, for example.

And the owner of another small business with about the same number of employees might agree. Bernard Jomard makes specialized laundry equipment for hotels and hospitals, and his biggest problem, he says, is that there is no clear direction from the new government on fiscal and employment policies.

BERNARD JOMARD, CEO, DANUBE INTERNATIONAL: It's quite discouraging, because all the business owners will freeze all new employment. But as a business, the show should go on.

BITTERMANN: According to a recent poll, nearly 60 percent of the French are unhappy with the new president's first steps. But it's not just criticism from the business community and the political right that is causing Mr. Hollande's approval ratings to plummet. He also faces criticism from the political left and those who supported him during his campaign for president.

Jean-Luc Melenchon, the far-left presidential candidate who instructed followers to vote for Hollande has most recently been seen in bitter confrontation with Hollande's government because, in his view, it's not moving fast enough on a more socialist political agenda.

That national coordinating secretary for Melenchon's party, Helene Duclos, is now organizing street demonstrations against Hollande's austerity plans.

HELENE DUCLOS, LEFT FRONT PARTY: We were hoping that there'd be a certain turnaround and a certain consciousness of the urgency of the situation and the urgency of turning things around and making a few more concrete propositions in the right direction.

BITTERMANN (on camera): The new president went on television on Sunday night to respond to his critics and to promise that he would straighten out the nation's economy within two years.

But given the constraints on his government, he said, it will take a little belt-tightening from everyone: a 30 billion euro austerity program that not many wanted to hear about, and which led some to suggest that his approach to curing the ailing economy is going to be no different than his predecessor.

Jim Bittermann, CNN, Paris.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE: Coming up later in the show, how the economic crisis is impacting politics in Italy. Meet the comedian turned politician who's winning the hearts and votes of Italians just fed up with mainstream parties.

And a quick reminder that all this week, CNN's taking a look at the future of Europe through those most affected by the decisions being made: the workers, the small business owners, the pensioners, as well as the unemployed. That's all this week, right here on CNN.

Still to come here on CONNECT THE WORLD, she decides whether it's weird, wonderful, or maybe it's both. Meet the woman who brings the magic of the circus to life.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VERJEE: Time now for our series on the Leading Women of the world. Tonight, the fantasy world of Cirque du Soleil. We introduce you to the company's casting director, Krista Monson. With more than 40,000 performers at her disposal, choosing the right person for the act is an art in itself.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Her name can inspire fear when uttered in audition hallways. But with her warmth and tone of voice, she is anything but an imposing figure.

KRISTA MONSON, CASTING DIRECTOR, CIRQUE DU SOLEIL: Hello, Janna (ph). Hi. Welcome, and thank you for that. You're a very precise and disciplined and beautiful singer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.

MONSON: So thank you.

I really try hard to always keep that level of humanity in my relations with artists and everybody.

STOUT: As a casting director for the multidimensional Cirque du Soleil, Krista Monson is one of the few gatekeepers for this extremely competitive arena. She stands at the cusp of the most talented pool of artists in the world.

MONSON: Examples of Olympians in our shows, we have divers here at "O," artistic gymnasts, we have synchronized swimmers who are Olympians.

STOUT: She oversees a team of scouts that look for performers in the western US and Canada that could be used by Cirque du Soleil shows worldwide. Her team also pick performers for the company's ten year-round US shows.

MONSON: Good morning.

STOUT: This guardian of talent, former dancer and choreographer, mother of two boys and wife to a Cirque du Soleil band leader is Krista Monson.

The fantasy world of Cirque du Soleil. It pulls audiences in with its breathtaking acrobatics, otherworldly scenery, and stunning choreography. In any of the company's 21 shows, you could see singers, dancers, jugglers, clowns, contortionists, acrobats, and more.

MONSON: These are great choices. And maybe put her first.

STOUT: Krista Monson is one of a handful of casting directors bringing them in. The needs of Cirque du Soleil are so varied, Monson's team has to be seven what they call discipline families, and nearly 500 artistic and acrobatic profiles fall within those families.

MONSON: Sport, circus, instrumentalists, singers, dance, actors, and clowning. Under the sport umbrella, there are probably over 100 disciplines.

STOUT: The job of Monson's team is to know what the shows need and then to find it. It is a massive mission, and though Monson is a former dancer and choreographer herself, she admits the needs of Cirque du Soleil go far beyond her base of knowledge.

MONSON: You can't be an expert at everything. It's impossible. And what is possible, though, is to have experts as part of the casting team that understand those communities, understand how musicians work, understand how clowns work, and react to our approach and what will help inspire those artists to want to work with us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Audition-wise, we invited 82 people, and we kept 14 as potentials.

MONSON: So, even if you're talking about an Olympic diver or an Olympian, artistic excellence is usually something that's not in their vocabulary. They're seasoned pros at -- in what they do, they've been doing it for years and years and years and years and years, and they're at a very high level. And we want that high level.

But we also want them to be open-minded, we want them to take risks, we want to get them out of their comfort zone.

STOUT: Monson's team searches for the best talent in the world, and for performers with unexpected skills, and their quest may take them from street festivals to the internet.

MONSON: What does Hannah do?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's a -- she does a little bit of everything. She's a mermaid.

MONSON: She's a mermaid?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's a mermaid, that's her skill set.

MONSON: A professional mermaid?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, a professional mermaid.

MONSON: We are hit occasionally with a certain artist that comes to us and we cannot categorize them. And we actually like those moments, because we know we're hopefully discovering something new.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Monson's soothing, welcoming demeanor is the same whether she's leading a meeting of her staff or directing a singer during an audition.

MONSON: Thank you, Janna. Thank you for your fearlessness.

We really are proud that our auditions are hopefully not a cattle call. With -- they are an experience for an artist. And that's the opportunity for me to say hey, we're all -- we all get here somehow, and we're all human beings, and let's work hard and if you feel uncomfortable at some point in this audition, it means you're doing something right.

STOUT: Monson certainly leads a creative life. We'll see in the coming weeks, it can create challenges trying to raise two boys when both she and her husband work in the theater.

MONSON: We have a bit of a crazy life, so we try to make sure they're not -- that they're getting the best out of our crazy life.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE: We're going to here more from Krista Monson next week when our series continues, but if you can't wait that long, just head to our website at cnn.com/leadingwomen. There, you're going to find out more about Krista, as well as about all our Leading Women, and just join in the conversation, OK?

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up, the comedian who is shaking up Italian politics. Becky Anderson asks if he'll take a stand in next year's election. The answer just ahead.

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TIZIANA MARRONE, GIUSEPPE CAMPANIELLO'S WIDOW: They don't care about us. They don't care about us.

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VERJEE: Despair from a woman who lost her husband of 27 years to the euro crisis. This week on CNN, we brought you the story of Giuseppe Campaniello, who in a desperate act of hopelessness six months ago set himself on fire outside a Bologna tax office.

Giuseppe's case isn't isolated in Italy, where the economic crisis has only deepened, and disillusionment has become even more widespread. In this environment, it's probably not that surprising that voters are throwing their support behind politicians with more extreme views.

Back in May, Becky Anderson got a taste of this changing sentiment when she went to a local election rally for the man leading the so-called Beppe Boom.

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BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's known as the clown prince of Italian politics.

(MAN SPEAKING ITALIAN)

ANDERSON: Beppe Grillo is the comedian-turned-politician whose Five Star Movement is winning the hearts and votes of Italians fed up with mainstream parties.

BEPPE GRILLO, FOUNDER, FIVE STAR MOVEMENT (through translator): My vision was just to make jokes about politicians, and then I made this joke about how this politician was stealing, and he actually was.

ANDERSON: That joke on Italian TV program "Fantastico" in the 1980s saw Beppe effectively banned from television. But he's since found a new audience at rallies like this and on the internet, where he continues to attack Italy's leaders with satire in a wave of popularity that's been dubbed the Beppe Boom.

ANDERSON (on camera): Do you blame Silvio Berlusconi for the state that Italy is in today.

GRILLO (through translator): No, no. Berlusconi was a consequence. He was the ultimate salesman, the one who publicized products of no substance, like a shop with a beautifully lit window, but nothing concrete to sell. His political appearance is already history. Pre-history, even.

ANDERSON: You talk about Silvio Berlusconi being of a past age. The Italian president, who is in his mid 80s, recently dismissed the boom in support for you by saying the last boom he remembers is the economic boom in Italy in the 1960s. What do you say to him?

GRILLO (through translator): He doesn't understand that there are millions of Italians out there that can't stand this any longer. You can't ask an Italian, an entrepreneur, a family to make sacrifices when the presidency costs about 240 million euros a year. Do you understand this? Our president earns three times as much as yours.

An Italian ambassador earns 20,000 euros per month. Merkel earns 9,000 a month. You cannot expect sacrifices right now, because we should all make sacrifices or no one will.

ANDERSON (voice-over): It's this kind of talk that's touched a raw nerve with Italians. An increasing number of Grillo's candidates are winning mayoral races, and one recent poll suggests the Five Star Movement is now among the top three political groups in the country. Success that reflects a growing trend in other parts of Europe, where disillusionment is seeing a shift away from mainstream parties.

ANDERSON (on camera): Why do you think he's successful now in Italy?

MARTINA PALADINO, SUPPORTER, FIVE STAR MOVEMENT: We have a lot of trouble right now, and he's the only way -- he's a different way to make politics, to change things from the very -- from the ground.

LAURA ANTIMIANI, SUPPORTER, FIVE STAR MOVEMENET: We don't trust the - - the parties anymore. They didn't do -- good things in the past, and they are not doing good things in the present.

MATTEO CAVALCA, SUPPORTER, FIVE STAR MOVEMENT: Italian politics is not changing. It's -- we have the same politicians since I'm five years old, so it's time to change. I want to see new faces.

ANDERSON: Well, there's no doubt that he can entertain a crowd. But the question is, can he destabilize mainstream politics?

(GRILLO SHOUTING IN ITALIAN)

ANDERSON (voice-over): Grillo's critics dismiss him as a loudmouth and say he simply doesn't have the policies to stand up on the national stage.

ANDERSON (on camera): You're talking local politics at present, but if in the event you got into national politics as this grass roots movement, which is now sort of part of the mainstream, what for example would your official position be on Italy in the euro?

GRILLO (through translator): I'm not asking to leave the euro, but to sit around a table and ask ourselves, is it better to maintain the status quo, thus taking the Italian population along this downward slope, or is it better to look at what we'd need to sacrifice to get out of the euro? Is it better with or without the euro?

Ten out of twenty-seven countries don't have the euro. They don't have a risk of defaulting. We have undersold our democracy by spreading it. Enough is enough. We want our lives back.

ANDERSON: How far do you want to go with this movement?

GRILLO (in English): I don't know.

GRILLO (through translator): It is an experiment of hyper democracy. The one thing that I have understood is that we are going through an epochal change of culture, not politics. It is a cultural revolution of the society. To change political castes is the first step.

The one thing I'm certain of is that the political parties are finished. Finished. They liquefied in political diarrhea, political diarrhea. There is nothing left. Nothing.

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VERJEE: Becky Anderson talking to Beppe Grillo back in May. And in tonight's Parting Shots, a flower fit for a duke and a duchess. Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge began their nine-day tour of Southeast Asia today by the viewing of an orchid in Singapore named after the couple.

The royal pair were all smiles, they were so happy as they visited the world famous botanic garden. The Duchess of Cambridge laughed as she noted how some of the flowers' colors matched her pink dress.

There was a pause for reflection, too, when Prince William was shown an orchid dedicated to his late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, 15 years ago. The princess never saw the orchid, which was christened just after she died. The duke and duchess will fly on to Kuala Lumpur before heading to Borneo.

I'm Zain Verjee and that was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thanks so much for watching. The world headlines are up next after this short break. Stay with us.

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