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American Spying "Not Acceptable"; Moderation in the Muslim World; Imagine a World

Aired October 31, 2013 - 15:00:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour.

The tsunami of revelations about American spying just keeps coming. And American foreign relations are already taking a hit.

The Germans have named the scandal "Handygate," from their terms for mobile phone, a German delegation and other European officials are in Washington today, venting their anger over the surveillance of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, of other leaders and of millions of the continent's private citizens.

My exclusive guest tonight is the German foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle. He tells me you cannot fight terrorism by taping the chancellor's cell phone.

Merkel's response so far has been cool, calm and collected, while deeply disappointed. But the blowback from America's overreach, as the Germans see it, is plain: a grave breach of trust that could affect not just diplomacy but trade and a host of other issues as well, and one that will require a major confidence rebuilding effort from the Obama administration.

On that, Foreign Minister Westerwelle was crystal clear when he joined me earlier from Berlin.


AMANPOUR: Foreign Minister, welcome back to the program.


AMANPOUR: I want to know your reaction to what your delegation in Washington has been hearing and saying to the U.S. administration regarding these phone tapping allegations, particularly that of Chancellor Merkel's phone.

WESTERVILLE: Well, we think that this is not acceptable, of course, and I ask for the understanding of our friends in the United States of America. We belong to the same community of values. And in this community of values, the right balance between security and privacy is necessary.

And I think what has happened in the last years cannot be accepted by Germany and by many other European partners.

AMANPOUR: And Foreign Minister, you've obviously been talking personally to your chancellor. What is her personal reaction to this phone tapping of her cell phone?

WESTERVILLE: I think her reaction was very sovereign (ph). I think it was, on the one hand, relaxed. On the other hand, I mean, everyone could see that she was disappointed.

And it's not only because of herself. It is because that we have the reports about many others in our country, I mean, we protect -- we do not only protect the privacy of our chancellor. We want to protect the privacy of our citizens and I think this is in our mutual interest.

And this is part of our common values which brings us together as Western world and as Western alliance.

AMANPOUR: Has the U.S. now assured you that this tapping will stop, at least of the chancellor's phone?

WESTERVILLE: I cannot go into details. That's not my business here in this interview.

We addressed our message in a very clear and in a very frank way. I understand that it is necessary to fight against terrorism. But you cannot fight terrorism by taping the chancellor's cell phone.

AMANPOUR: So are you satisfied with what you heard from the White House, from the administration?

WESTERVILLE: I think it would be a confidence-building measure if a delegation from Washington is now coming to Berlin and to the other European capitals to explain what has happened and to find ways how we can restore the confidence which has been damaged between our nations.

AMANPOUR: Well, you're skillfully skirting what I'm directly trying to ask you.

So let me ask you this. Do you think your phone has been tapped?

WESTERVILLE: I cannot exclude it. But I'm prepared to everything.

AMANPOUR: How is this going to affect German-U.S. relations now, medium- term and long-term?

WESTERVILLE: I mean, for the long-term partnership, one thing is for sure: we are not only partners, we are really good and close friends. And we should not ignore the deep roots between our countries and the excellent relations and friendships between our political leaders. And especially between the peoples of our nations.

So I think it is on us together now to find ways how we can build a new bridge, a new transatlantic bridge, which is necessary because just imagine the German intelligence service would have done what we got reported out of Washington here about the intelligence activities in Berlin and in other European countries.

I think we all can imagine what kind of reactions we would have on the Hill in Washington and so I think it is necessary now to find ways to restore and to resurrect the confidence between our countries.

AMANPOUR: Well, is Germany spying on the United States and if not, why not?

Obviously I ask you this because many are saying this should be a wakeup call for Germany as you become a more and more important power; you're the third biggest power right now, the dominant power in Europe, and that perhaps you also ought to enlarge your, let's say, espionage, surveillance activities.

WESTERVILLE: It's a difficult question what you are asking the German foreign minister at the moment. I can only quote what the head of our intelligence agency just said in public, that we do not do these kind of activities against members of the government in the United States of America.

AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask you about fallout beyond the diplomatic, because it's already been raised by Germans, by other Europeans; for instance, German politicians and the E.U. vice president, the E.C. vice president, has said that the U.S.-E.U. free trade agreement could be in jeopardy.

Your politicians have called for it to be suspended, put on ice for the moment.

Is that something that's going to happen?

WESTERVILLE: There is a discussion about this in our public debate. But I do not support this proposal. I think these TTIP (ph) -- how is it called -- our transatlantic trade agreement which we are negotiating at the moment is in our mutual strategic interest.

The Western world will benefit from this agreement. And therefore I think we should continue with this negotiation. So I do not support these kind of proposals.

AMANPOUR: Foreign Minister Westerwelle, thank you very much for joining me.

WESTERVILLE: Thank you so much.


AMANPOUR: So while America and its closest allies wrestle with the frightening new world of cyber surveillance, Britain is making sure that it attracts the right kind of Islamic attention, the investment kind, worth an estimated $1.5 trillion this year.

This week, the U.K. made its move and one of the top Islamic leaders, Malaysia's prime minister, Najib Razak, talks to me about that and his effort to promote modernization. My exclusive interview when we return.




AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

Now an extraordinary thing has been happening in London this week. The World Islamic Economic Forum has been meeting here, the first time it's ever been hosted by a non-Muslim country. Although in the unusually frank admission of one top banking official, quote, "Brand Islam sits uncomfortably in the West, particularly after 9/11."

The U.K. is making it perfectly clear that it wants to be part of the world of Islamic investment, estimated to reach $1.5 trillion this year.

Prime Minister David Cameron announced that Britain would be the first Western country to issue an Islamic bond worth 200 million pounds next year. Mr. Cameron has declared that he wants London to join the ranks of Dubai as a hub for Islamic finance.

My exclusive guest tonight, Malaysia's prime minister, Najib Razak, kicked off the forum this week with, among other things, a robust defense of why women should be at the heart of the effort to boost Muslim nations' economies and development.

A majority Muslim nation, Malaysia is ethnically and culturally diverse with a vibrant economy, an appealing destination for investors and tourists, although the global recession has taken its toll as the U.K. makes its move to the lucrative Islamic market, the U.S. is still working on its pivot to Asia.

And you'll hear what the prime minister thinks of President Obama canceling his trip to Malaysia last month due to the U.S. government shutdown.

I asked Prime Minister Najib Razak about all of this as well as other pressing issues at home concerning his coalition's nearly six-decade rule, allegations of vote rigging in the last election and the dangers his reforms face from his conservative flank.


AMANPOUR: Prime Minister, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: The prime minister of Britain wants this country to be the world capital for Islamic finance and investment.

Is that a realistic objective?

RAZAK: Well, I think it's realistic because in terms of Europe, in particular, I think the city of London would be in the best position to do so because of the linkages with the Muslim world and because of expertise that they have here in banking, particularly conventional banking.

But there is a role that Malaysia can play and I've, you know, I've stated in my speech that we're willing to work with the city of London to promote Islamic banking, Islamic finance.

AMANPOUR: What does it exactly mean? What is an Islamic bond? What is Islamic finance?

RAZAK: Islamic finance is based on sharing of risk and a small asset base. Therefore it's deemed to be fairer and more equitable.

It offers a very concrete model in a world that's full of uncertainties and certainly conventional finance which is in large based on speculative considerations.

AMANPOUR: How bad was it that President Obama had to cancel his trip to Malaysia?

RAZAK: It was a missed opportunity for Obama to assert his leadership, particularly in the context of his policy (ph) pivot towards Asia.

I know he regrets it. I know he sees it in that manner and when he called me, he said, by hook or crook, I will visit Malaysia next year.

So we're looking forward to receiving. I don't think it's fatal. I don't think -- I just see that as a missed opportunity.

AMANPOUR: Let me go back to what you spoke about in your U.N. speech. You talked about the need for modernization. You said that one of the greatest threats to Islam and to Muslims around the world is within, not from the outside.

Let me quote a little bit of what you said, that "Extremism is taking lives and crushing opportunity. I believe the greatest threat to Muslims today comes not from the outside world, but from within."

Can you win this battle?

RAZAK: We have to do more, really, I meant that it's very alarming, you know, this conflict between the Sunni and the Shia. It's really tearing apart the Muslim world.

And it's about time we come to our senses and realize that it's moderation is the only part that will ensure peace and stability for the Muslim world and also for the wider world.

AMANPOUR: And there's also so much conflict between moderation as you say and not just extremism but conservatism.

Let's look at Egypt right now. I'd like to know your take on whether you think that it was the right thing to do to basically depose an elected government there. And right now, the latest who've been arrested was actually a moderate member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Assam el-Arian, who's well known to all of us and to all of you.

How can that further the cause of moderation?

RAZAK: I know what I would have done if, you know, I would have -- if I were the military or the (inaudible) Muslim Brotherhood, I would have waited until the next election because they were elected and (inaudible) chance to perform and to show their worth.

But that's water under the bridge now. They have to find some sort of national reconciliation if possible. It's not going to be easy because their strong positions, both sides. But there must be a form of national reconciliation.

AMANPOUR: You look fairly troubled about it and I wonder whether you think this has a real chilling effect on the idea of a moderate democracy in the Islamic world.

RAZAK: In a sense it does, because if -- you know, you push it to the extreme and you don't accept democracy and the will of the people, I have a problem with that.

AMANPOUR: It looks like you are under quite a lot of pressure from your conservatives at home. And they're kind of forcing you into a lot of U- turns as well, regarding a lot of the reforms that you introduced.

How much pressure are the conservatives putting on you right now?

I mean, we read, for instance, superficial things that we see, like the court says only Muslims can use Allah to refer to God, whereas religions in Malaysia traditionally use that word to refer to God, whether they were Muslim or not.

We say that a pop star is banned from playing in Malaysia.

It's bad, isn't it?

RAZAK: My priority is to ensure peace and harmony in Malaysia. That is uppermost in my mind. So when a court decides (inaudible) I have to respect the court's decision to me it's not about winning a legal argument. To me it goes beyond that.

AMANPOUR: But what does that say about the course of moderation? Look, your critics are saying that you just survived a pretty vicious internal battle; you won your latest election with a lower majority than you had before.

You didn't win the popular vote but your coalition came to power, and that you're having to throw, quote-unquote, "red meat" at the conservatives and at the hardliners who you've been trying to change with some of your reforms, just tell me frankly how difficult it is to walk that line of moderation.

RAZAK: It's all about having a long-term vision for the country and we are committed to that long-term vision for the country. But to move towards that long-term vision, to achieve our long-term goals, there will be some growing pains along the way. And if you want long-term stability you must make sure that the majority of the people are not marginalized.

But having said that, we do cater as well in a very inclusive way for the small minorities. For example, in my budget speech, I addressed the consensus of the Malaysian Indians, for example. So we are not racist at all.

AMANPOUR: I hear what you're saying, but some of the facts may dispute that.

For instance, we read about a massive brain drain by some Malaysian Indians, by some of the Chinese because they're worried about these things. You say you're not racist. They say, well, hang on a second; the deck is stacked against us.

Surely this is a problem as you try to keep your economic engine generating as well.

RAZAK: The only way that we can be competitive so to speak to keep talent at home is through provide more and more opportunities, create high-paying jobs. That's exactly what we're doing. I'd like to mention that in the recent, very, very recent World Bank survey of ease of doing business, and we have jumped from 12th position last year to 6th in the world.

So that speaks volumes of the reforms that we are doing in Malaysia.

AMANPOUR: Talk to me about power and the accumulation of power. Your party, coalition, has been in power for 56 years. That's a long time by anybody's reckoning.

Do you agree?

RAZAK: Yes, I hope it's not too long.


AMANPOUR: Some would say it's too long. And seriously, some would say -- and I'm going to read you a list of what some of your critics say, you know, there are lots of allegations of fraud, of buying votes, of double voting, of phantom voters. The issue of gerrymandering, what do you say to that? Do you accept any of that? Do you deny it all?

RAZAK: By and large, the allegations are totally unfounded. They've not been able to prove anything at all. For example, they allege that we brought in 40,000 people from Bangladesh to vote in the last election. And since the last election, they have not been able to deduce any evidence of that.

AMANPOUR: But the allegations are mounting and human rights people want to know exactly what direction you're going in.

Does any of it concern you?

RAZAK: Since I took over office, I've got a very positive record. For example, I have disbanded the internal security act which is detention without trial. I've ended 50 years of emergency rule in Malaysia or powers relating to emergency rule in Malaysia.

I've allowed for peaceful assembly in Malaysia. So I stand by my record that we have made fundamental changes in Malaysia.

AMANPOUR: You're obviously under pressure. You've admitted it yourself. You have a lot of conservatives on your flank, trying to undo a lot of the reforms, trying to promote one of the things that has been quite troublesome, and that is preferential treatment to ethnic Malays, among other things.

How much is your attempt to reform and to drive moderation in Malaysia under threat right now?

RAZAK: I believe we will achieve our goals. In every country, there will be people representing the whole breadth of the political spectrum, look what's happening in the United States, for example. They had the Tea Party wreaking havoc with the whole political process in the United States.

But fortunately we don't have to that extent in Malaysia. We do have people who are perhaps more conservative in their views. We have people who are more concerned about some of the ethnic balance in Malaysia.

AMANPOUR: Wreak a different kind of havoc.

RAZAK: Yes. But we can manage. We have went through reasonably successful election and the party election was hugely successful. So I have the mandate from the people. I have the mandate from the party and I know with a mandate from the party and the people, we can make the reforms and we will deliver Malaysia as an advanced economy come the year 2020.

God willing. Inshallah.

AMANPOUR: Thank you for joining me.

RAZAK: Thank you.


AMANPOUR: Now as I've mentioned, human rights organizations have expressed concern about what goes on in Malaysia. And even as we spoke, 19 people were arrested today there, while peacefully protesting the demolition of a historical village, that according to Amnesty International.

And while President Obama chose not to visit Malaysia, that country's ministry of tourism and culture has launched a fullcourt press to attract visitors for 2014. And the official mascot of that campaign is the proboscis monkey, named of course for his remarkably long nose.

It's found only in the jungles of Borneo, which even today are under threat by overdevelopment and forest fires.

After a break, we'll turn from one endangered species to another, a Halloween creature fearing for its life, trick or treat for the environment when we come back.




AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, in Mexico they call it the Day of the Dead. In Asia, it's the Festival of the Hungry Ghost. In France, it's the Eve of La Toussaint, and here in Britain it goes by many names, from Samhain to All Hallows' Eve.

Now imagine a world and a Halloween without bats. For those of us who spent Halloween in a movie theater clutching the person in the next seat when Dracula morphed from a winged creature into a count in a winged collar, bats have been the terrifying shadows in the night sky, a swarm of menace to haunt the dreams of children and grownups alike.

But now it's the bat which has reason to be terrified and scientists fear for its very existence. A devastating disease known as white nose syndrome has swept through the eastern United States into the Midwest, across Canada and all the way to the Pacific, killing an estimated 6 million bats along the way.

Biologists believe the contagion is caused by a fungus which attacks the bats while they hibernate. But manmade causes like the destruction of ancient forests and depriving the bats of their natural habitats as well.

Bats, like humans, are mammals, but they're the only mammals that can actually fly. And they help the environment by devouring insects that would otherwise damage crops. Now that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may place at least one type of bat on its endangered species list, there is hope that this time next Halloween they can spread their wings and live.

And that's it for tonight's program. And remember, you can always contact us at and follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.