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Replay of Important Interviews: Ameerah al-Taweel and Moncef Marzouki
Aired December 26, 2012 - 15:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour.
This week, we're looking at some of the top interviews and stories that we've been covering this year. And we'll update you on those that still dominate the headlines now.
Today, rapid changes in the Muslim world.
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AMANPOUR (voice-over): Tunisia was, of course, the launch pad for the Arab Spring revolutions. I'll speak to the president of that young democracy, Moncef Marzouki, later in the program.
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AMANPOUR: But first, women's rights, a subject that we've often discussed on this program. And today we have a rare opportunity to speak to a true insider, a woman who's on the front lines of this issue and as an activist she comes from an unlikely police.
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AMANPOUR (voice-over): Ameerah al-Taweel is not only a privileged princess, she is from Saudi Arabia. Her husband is one of the richest men in the world. He's Prince al-Waleed bin Talal. He is also the nephew of the Saudi king, Abdullah.
In a country that is among the most oppressive for women anywhere in the world, where women can't travel alone, are not allowed to drive a car, can't even take a job without the approval of their male guardian, the princess is saying things that clerics and conservatives in the painfully conservative Saudi Arabia don't want to hear.
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AMANPOUR: Princess Ameerah came to the United States this fall to announce a global project, millions of dollars from her foundation to improve economic and job opportunities and also help resolve conflicting religious views.
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AMANPOUR (voice-over): Her visit came just as the Arab world exploded into violence over an obscure Internet film that denigrated the Prophet Muhammad, the very sort of cultural intolerance that Princess Ameerah is trying to fight.
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AMANPOUR: We bring you her story again, because when we first aired it, it provoked a huge response because of her views and because of where she comes from. I spoke to her in New York.
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AMANPOUR: You're bringing this bridge building mission here to New York at a time when the world has been convulsed, your part of the world, with these anti-American protests. You know, we've talked about it a lot over the last week.
What do you say to people who are using these excuses, these films, these cartoons, to act in an inexcusable way?
AMEERAH AL-TAWEEL, SAUDI PRINCESS: Well, it's been very unfortunate that we're witnessing these violent acts among Arab youth towards American representation. And the film, yes, it was offensive. It was wrong. And at the same time, the reaction of violence, killing innocent people who had nothing to do with the film, is wrong as well.
And two wrongs don't make a right.
AMANPOUR: What can you do in terms of the missions that you are trying to start, I mean, this immense amount of money that you and your husband are pouring in and announcing at the Clinton Global Initiative, do you think that that's actually something very timely and can lead to resolving some of this tension?
AL-TAWEEL: Yes. Arabs are frustrated and very specifically young Arabs are frustrated because they have been oppressed for five decades.
AMANPOUR: By their own leaders.
AL-TAWEEL: By their own leaders. And now they have the chance to express themselves; they have freedom of speech, and at the same time, there isn't any channels whereby they express their opinions in appropriate manners, like civil society, NGOs, even their own governments; their new governments are not well structured yet.
And that's why we're seeing all of these violent acts that are not right, but it's our job to create such channels whereby they can express themselves. Up for Unity is an initiative where it's an uncommon table of world leaders, gathering to create those channels for these young people, not only in the Arab world, but also across all regions.
And the mission of Up for Unity is actually to bridge the gap of hope, faith, opportunity and financial device. And our goal is to reach 100 million people among -- within five years and we're hoping to do so with our partners.
AMANPOUR: It's a very ambitious goal, but obviously something that's really needed right now.
And as I said at the beginning, what we also want to do is focus on something that you're passionate about and right in the middle of, and that is women's rights, not just around the Islamic world, but in your own home country of Saudi Arabia, where, you know, things change at the speed of molasses, which means very, very slowly.
What do you say to the perennial question of why can't women drive?
AL-TAWEEL: It's definitely a question that I've been asked a lot. I don't know why. It's -- I think it's a very easy decision. And it is up before the government. A lot of people are saying this is a social issue. Not many political issues are right of, you know, 40 percent of the Saudi society are females. And you're taking their right to drive, saying it's a social issue.
Well, education was a social issue. And a lot of people in Saudi Arabia were against women getting educated. Yet the decision was made. And among five years, we see a lot of Saudi women are -- were -- in the `70s, of course, were into -- plugged into education and now you're talking about 57 percent of university graduates are women.
AMANPOUR: They are --
AL-TAWEEL: And it's very impressive and it does need leadership and it needs a decision taken by the officials in my country.
AMANPOUR: And do you think that they should take that decision?
AL-TAWEEL: Of course.
AMANPOUR: Do you think it's time for reform? Can reform happen in Saudi Arabia, because what we're told is everything has to move so slowly because, you know, the clerics are so powerful and the waves (ph) of conservatism is so powerful.
AL-TAWEEL: Conservatives have an amazing lobby. They know how to voice out their opinions. Us women, not yet. If they are against something, they write op-eds at the same time; they use social media at the same time.
They walk into official offices of the government at the same time. And they state their opinions. Now for us women, yes, we are very educated. We know exactly what we want, but we're not organized.
AMANPOUR: Why not? Why don't people write op-eds? I mean, look, you just said 57 percent of college graduates are women. Only 15 percent, though, of the workforce is women. So they haven't got in there. But there are some very powerful women in Saudi Arabia. Why are people shy to write the op-eds and to organize, even that 15 percent?
AL-TAWEEL: There are a lot of women who are doing so. But the problem is it's not uniting together and doing it at the same time.
And we're trying to do so with the foundation. We're creating the First Women Leaders Network in Saudi Arabia, where you have women leaders from different sectors. And they get together; they set priorities and they set how to tackle these priorities and reach their voices to the right people. And this is a step that I think will create a positive change.
AMANPOUR: You're being very open. You're a member of the royal family.
AMANPOUR: Is that a risk for you? Do you get pushback, blowback?
AL-TAWEEL: I received some criticisms and I do get some of those negative feedbacks. But at the same time, I don't represent all Saudi women. There are Saudi women who are against such a movement. I represent maybe a sector of young Saudi women. And the population of Saudis, 60 percent are under the age of 30.
AMANPOUR: So that's the majority.
AL-TAWEEL: Yes. And when you're saying, you know, in a slow speed, that's not their speed. They're used to technology --
AL-TAWEEL: -- they're globalized and they want things to happen quickly and they want them to happen now.
AMANPOUR: But that, you see, of course, I understand the aspiration, but that rubs right against the ruling authorities and the clerics. And what I think is so interesting is that the clerics are fundamental in people's civic life, in people's home life. And the idea of this conservatism starts right at home.
I want to play you something from a young Saudi activist in that age group that you talk about, Manal al-Sharif, who was, you know, posted the driving demonstration, then was in trouble for it, and talked about how in Saudi Arabia, women, from the minute they're born to the minute they die, have to have a male guardian. Listen to what she told me.
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MANAL AL-SHARIF, SAUDI ACTIVIST: So I'm treated as a minor in every single aspect of my life. I need to get a male permission to study, to work, to get my papers, to leave the country.
AMANPOUR: And who -- which males' permission?
AL-SHARIF: If I'm not married, it's my father.
AMANPOUR: And what if you have no father and no husband?
AL-SHARIF: It moves to my kids, for example.
AMANPOUR: Your kid is your guardian?
AL-SHARIF: Yes. So it's -- can you imagine, you give birth to your own guardian?
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AMANPOUR: It's pretty dramatic, Princess.
AL-TAWEEL: It is. But --
AMANPOUR: (Inaudible) fight that?
Or how to make it change?
AL-TAWEEL: Well, it's all --
AMANPOUR: -- in modern Saudi Arabia?
AL-TAWEEL: -- it all starts with civil rights. So far there isn't any written civil rights for Saudi women as citizens of Saudi Arabia. And the Ministry of Justice said that they're working on it. However, it's us -- you know, rights are not given; they're taken. And it's up to us women to gather, state what we want to happen with our civil rights.
She's talking about male guardian. That's not our only problem. Some kind --
AMANPOUR: That's one of the problems.
AL-TAWEEL: Yes, with custody battles, and you're a woman, your children get taken away from you. A lot of Saudi women suffer from that. My own mom suffered from that with us. So it touches every woman's life. And I think it's up to us to move and to ask for it. The government is moving and it's making a lot of reforms. But we need to move as well as civil society and as NGOs.
AMANPOUR: The problem is that when you do, you can get arrested or thrown in jail, perhaps not you as a member of the royal family, but some of the activists do. So here, what will create that courage, do you think? Where does the hope lie?
AL-TAWEEL: This is the thing. We're not going to protest in the streets, where we could be against any -- I'll give you an example, with conservatives. With women working in lingerie shops, they didn't like that.
And then the Minister of Labor said, you have -- to all of the companies of lingerie shops -- they said there are 12 months to hire women or we'll shut you down. They went, found out what's wrong with that law.
And they filed a lawsuit against the government. They all lobbied together, wrote op-eds at the same time, did research and studies, through politically right means, to approve and to showcase their own point of view, that this is not right that women shouldn't be working in lingerie shops.
And you know what, the decision got postponed. Now if us women did the same thing and lobbied in the right way, we would can do it as well.
AMANPOUR: So are you going to work on that, sort of organizational level?
AL-TAWEEL: It's not just me. I'm so happy, because I was just at a women's gathering in Saudi Arabia. You have women doctors gathering. You have women engineers, who are starting the first engineer council for women.
You have a lot of women starting their own lobbies, and it's about time that we get together and we voice out our concerns, just like the conservatives do, through democratic means, where we don't put ourselves in the face of danger, like you said.
AMANPOUR: And just to move again to the sort of bridge-building aspect, your husband, the foundation, has put a huge amount of money into the new Islamic art wing of the Louvre. And just last year a new Islamic art wing was opened here at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
Do you think that, as we see sort of the world kind of in flames, that these art and cultural methods have any benefit towards building bridges?
AL-TAWEEL: Of course. Art is a universal language. Anyone who sees art or an art piece and learns more about it, it could change their own stereotype about a certain religion or a certain culture. And this Islamic arts hall holds more than -- showcases 3,000 pieces and holds more than 1,000 Islamic arts paintings and sculptures and lots of art pieces.
They have been hidden away from the world at the Louvre storages for more than two decades. And President Jacques Chirac started this idea of having Islamic arts hall, and he got a lot of people on the table, including the foundation.
AMANPOUR: Princess Ameerah, thank you very much indeed for joining me.
AL-TAWEEL: Thank you so much. It's been a pleasure to be on your show.
AMANPOUR: And we'll be watching your efforts, very important ones in this regard.
AL-TAWEEL: Thank you. Thank you so much.
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AMANPOUR: The Arab Spring's winds of change flew right over Saudi Arabia. But in Tunisia, where the movement began, the fight for democracy is heating up. With a new constitution still unfinished and protesters demanding real reform. Tunisia's president is on the hot seat. My conversation with Moncef Marzouki when we return.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to tonight's program, our look at some of the top stories that we covered this year.
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AMANPOUR (voice-over): It's been two years since a young fruit peddler named Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in front of a Tunisian government office. He died from his burns, but friends and family said the real cause of death was loss of hope, that he would never that he would never find an opportunity or dignity in Tunisia.
That single act gave birth to revolution in Tunisia and then all over the Arab world, in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, beyond. But Tunisia's uprising was seen as a model. After a month of protests, Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali left the country peacefully, paving the way for democratic elections.
But as with all the Arab Spring uprisings, it wasn't that simple. And to the extremists, the ultrareligious Salafists began attacking liquor stores, theaters and, indeed, the very idea of democracy itself.
And in September, as the Muslim world was convulsed by a wave of anti- American protests, Islamists rioters clashed with police and they set fire to the U.S. embassy in Tunisia, and four people were killed.
Yet there are strong voices of moderation in there, among them, its president, Moncef Marzouki. I spoke with him in New York in the aftermath of all that unrest.
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AMANPOUR: President Obama paid moving tribute to how Tunisia set the example for the uprisings across North Africa. And yet today Chancellor Merkel of Germany has announced that she will be canceling a trip to your country because of safety concerns in the wake of all these protests.
What's your response to that?
MONCEF MARZOUKI, PRESIDENT OF TUNISIA: MARZOUKI: Well, I would like remember you that, in fact, the Islamists' movement is a very wide spectrum. And at the far right of this very wide spectrum you have the Salafis movement. And the Salafis movement itself is a wide spectrum.
You have part of this spectrum represented by people who are just matter -- for them it is a matter of a relationship against a foe (ph). And then we have within this part of the spectrum, the tiny minority. It's a tiny minority within the tiny minority who are Salafis, jihadists.
And those people are against democracy or against women's rights or against human rights at all, are against West and so forth. And this tiny minority, no more than 3,000 people in (inaudible) Asia --
AMANPOUR: Three thousand?
MARZOUKI: Three thousand, no more, by the report of the police, just 3,000 people. You know, this Black Friday now when you have this riots against the American ambassador, they were just 300 people --
AMANPOUR: Who were they? Were they -- were they terrorists? Was this Al Qaeda or was it just these --
MARZOUKI: I think -- I wouldn't say that they're linked to Al Qaeda. Maybe some are linked to Al Qaeda. But I think that -- in fact they are the product of the Tunisia society, you know, a product of poverty, illiteracy and so forth. So they are part of our society but they are, I would say, the dark side of our society.
And this is why dealing with this problem is quite difficult, because they are Tunisian, but also they -- I think they are now the most important threat against Tunisia, not against the stability of the country, because this country is stable, but against the image of Tunisia. You know, just imagine, we have more than 5 million tourists every year in Tunisia --
MARZOUKI: -- tourists -- and this is very important for the economy of the country. So when you have just one tourist, you know, injured by this kind of guy --
AMANPOUR: (Inaudible) huge.
MARZOUKI: -- imagine the U.S. paper in Europe saying, look -- and then you have economic crisis of the country, just because of very, very few people.
AMANPOUR: Mr. President, I just want to show you some video that they'll play on that wall there. It is from last spring, months ago, but it is a group of Tunisians shouting, "Obama, Obama, we're all Osama."
AMANPOUR: So as you see this video, I want to ask you how you then get control of what you say is a very small minority, but nonetheless a minority that has made its presence felt and that is terrifying the bejesus out of everybody, particularly here in the United States. How do you fight these violent Salafists?
MARZOUKI: We -- you have the same problem. We don't mix up in Tunisia or in the Arab world the far right groups in Europe or the white supremacists in the United States, or the American people or the American government. So why should we be mixed up with -- once again, with a very, very tiny minority? They're --
AMANPOUR: How do you combat them, because here they are, you have to admit, violent; the supremacists and the neo-Nazis have a different way of behaving -- bad, but not quite like this.
MARZOUKI: I must admit that we didn't realize how (inaudible) they can be for the stability -- for the -- for the image of the country and not for the stability, but because, once again, Tunisia is a stable country. It is a stable society. We are not afraid from these guys. But they are harmful for the image of Tunisia.
And now we have to tackle the issue very seriously. I must admit that it wasn't easy for us, you know, to have you crack down on the -- on this guy because we have been in prison ourselves. Many have been submitted to torture.
We do know what does it mean to be in prison, what does it mean for families and so forth. This is why we -- I admit that we -- it's very, very difficult for us to (inaudible) repression, repression, repression. But now we are -- we are dealing with this state of affairs. I'm happy to take our responsibilities and we are going to take our responsibilities.
AMANPOUR: You said that you had asked, when you came into office, for sort of a social political truce. You asked for about six months, and we have your words on the wall.
"If things aren't working out within six months, I will submit my resignation."
Right now, unemployment has gone from 13 percent in January of 2011 to about 18.3 percent in January of this year. Are things working or not? And does that put in play your promise? I mean, are you going to resign over this?
MARZOUKI: No, I'm not going to resign because we are, you know, we're seeing the hand of this nightmare, I'd say, because you know, we -- it's (inaudible) of government and we have to take (inaudible) same times having a new constitution, having new laws and solving the social and economic problem.
Nobody could do this in one year. We need to be gods. And we are not gods. We are just humans.
AMANPOUR: And so we wondered why you'd put that statement --
MARZOUKI: No, and I think that we probably we are going to have elections in few months in the -- it has been nothing to resign now because we will submit all our policy to the public, to the opinion of the people and then probably (inaudible).
So and then we will -- I will be proud to go to say, look, what we have achieved in one year, in one year, in 11/2 year. Now we have a constitution. We have a democratic state. We deal with the problem of this -- of Salafis and so forth. And you know --
AMANPOUR: Are you optimistic?
MARZOUKI: -- (Inaudible) invest in Tunisia if we -- if you don't have the stable government. This is the prerequisite, you know. So we are organized that the prerequisite of having a new economy and social development and so forth.
AMANPOUR: Are you optimistic and that you can get a really progressive constitution that doesn't have fundamentalist anti-women provisions --
MARZOUKI: Absolutely, absolutely. We are going to have one of the best constitutions of the world, promoting human rights, women's rights, you know, the world's about -- women are complimentary of the -- completely forget about it, you know.
AMANPOUR: That was terrible. It was like a helpmate to a man.
MARZOUKI: Yes, yes. But --
AMANPOUR: So that has no chance of passing?
MARZOUKI: Absolutely and sharia also --
AMANPOUR: No way sharia.
MARZOUKI: The world is not -- is not -- will not be in the constitution. We're going to have a real progressive constitution with all human rights protected. The problem would be to implement this very nice constitution. This will be another problem. But yes, we are going to have secular constitution, very good constitution.
We're going to have fair elections. We're going to have a new democratic state and stable state and then I hope that the economy would recover because you cannot have an economic recovery without solving the social, the political problems.
AMANPOUR: Well, Mr. President, Tunisia is the cradle of the Arab uprising. I wish you all the best.
MARZOUKI: Thank you, thank you.
AMANPOUR: Thank you for coming in.
MARZOUKI: Thank you so much. Thank you.
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AMANPOUR: The incredible change that began in Tunisia swept across North Africa and into Egypt. The future is cloudy and complicated there, especially in the city within the city of Cairo. They call it "Garbage City," and when we return, we'll see it through the eyes of the children who call it home.
AMANPOUR: Now imagine a world where a child's survival depends on garbage.
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AMANPOUR (voice-over): On the outskirts of Cairo rises Garbage City, home to 60,000 Coptic Christians knows as the Zabbaleen, as depicted in the award-winning documentary, "Garbage Dreams." The Zabbaleen are the unofficial garbage collectors, gathering the trash left by Cairo's 18 million people, and separating the refuse from the reusable.
For 50 years with a skill passed from generation to generation, the Zabbaleen have recycled 80 percent of the trash, almost four times the recycling rate of Western countries. But over the last decade, the Mubarak government contracted foreign companies to do the work.
Because of the inefficiency and incompetence, though, of those contractors, they failed.
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AMANPOUR: And Cairo's garbage, as I can attest, is mounting ever higher. The new Morsi government has promised to clean house, but with modernization, the livelihood of the Zabbaleen could be destined for the scrap heap. Their methods may be pre-industrial, but the people of Cairo prefer them. And they surely work.
That's it for us. Thanks for watching. Goodbye from New York.