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Russian Plane May Have Been Downed by Bomb; U.K. Ambassador on Special Relationship with U.S.; One Refugee's Treacherous Journey; Ending the Centuries-Old Illegal Practice of Female Genital Mutilation; Imagine a World. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired November 6, 2015 - 14:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: is ISIS now a global threat?
If the Russian airliner was bombed, that'll be the question keeping world leaders awake at night. Reaction from key players ahead.
Plus: digging deeper into the Syria disaster. A powerful film shows one refugee's treacherous journey to Europe.
And the barbaric practice of female genital mutilation. A special report takes us inside a cutting room in Kenya and a survivor and activist
joins us here.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Good evening, everyone. Welcome to the special weekend edition of our program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
This week, dramatic new developments in the case of the Russian airliner that crashed in the Sinai, killing 224 people. The American and
British governments revealed that intelligence suggests a bomb brought down the plane.
But the countries with the most at stake, politically and economically, Egypt and Russia, continue to push back against those
conclusions and, indeed, U.S. officials still say, until they know the results of the investigation, it could be a mechanical failure.
But as that intelligence news was breaking this week, I spoke exclusively to the Egyptian foreign minister, Sameh Shoukry.
AMANPOUR: Foreign Minister Shoukry, thank you for joining me.
Can I first get your reaction, the government's reaction, the president's reaction to this development from the British government?
SAMEH SHOUKRY, EGYPTIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Well, it's somewhat surprised. The prime minister spoke by phone yesterday to fully discuss
the issue. We can appreciate, of course, the offensive responsibility and desire to provide every protection to U.K. citizens. This is a desire that
we equally share.
But I think it is somewhat premature to make declarations related to what might or might not have happened to the aircraft before the
investigation is completed and before there is a definitive cause for this crash.
AMANPOUR: Foreign Minister, the president, in an interview with the BBC, basically dismissed any notion that there was evidence or even the
possibility of a terrorist attempt on this plane.
Do you believe now that there may possibly be and that the British should be taking these steps pending an investigation?
And they are sending a special team to your country to conduct further investigations.
SHOUKRY: From the outset we've always maintained that this is a matter for the investigation to clarify and we should not prejudge or take
any measure that might have implications.
There were implications also that the fact a large number of Egyptians, who rely heavily on the tourist industry. I think in all
concerns should just take caution and have a tempered approach --
SHOUKRY: -- while, at the same time, we are cognizant of the interest and the concern and have provided additional security arrangements in all
of our airports for the protection of our tourists and also to indicate that we are not sparing any efforts.
But that does not in any way imply one outcome or another.
AMANPOUR: Islamic State Sinai affiliate claimed responsibility, raising big questions about the global threat of ISIS. Ambassador Sir
Peter Westmacott, envoy to Washington and, before that, to a host of Middle East countries, joined me in the studio.
AMANPOUR: Ambassador, welcome.
SIR PETER WESTMACOTT, U.K. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: Thank you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: You just heard what the foreign minister said, that they're disappointed and surprised by this, particularly since the investigation
has not been complete.
From the British government point of view, is this a hasty decision or is this prudent?
WESTMACOTT: I think the Number 10 statement speaks for itself. We don't take these decisions lightly, as you know. And the reality is that
the two biggest group of tourists in Sharm el-Sheikh tend to be Russians and British. There are a lot of people there.
The government has a duty of care to British subjects. And if we put out a statement which says that we fear that it may have well been brought
down by an explosive device, you know, we have said that because we have reason to fear that may be the case. We're not -- it's not a premature,
it's not a hasty judgment. We haven't said this is what happened. We don't know for sure.
Investigations are continuing; we look forward, of course, to hearing the results of the investigation of the black box. We're very conscious of
the importance of Israel's tourist -- Egypt's tourist industry. We're delighted that President Sisi is here in town and the prime minister and he
will obviously have some very important discussions tomorrow.
But, please, don't think that this is a decision taken lightly. It's because of the concern that we have and the responsibility we have for the
safety of British tourists.
AMANPOUR: If a bomb did bring that plane down, it puts into sharp focus the price of Russia's military action in Syria. Many believe it's to
prop up the Assad regime, who has been struggling after more than four years of war.
That war has sent millions fleeing for their lives, people like Abu Salah, who continues to risk everything to bring his family to safety in
ABU SALAH, SYRIAN REFUGEE (from captions): Please help us! The regime of Bashar al-Assad is killing us! Please! Every day there is
I can't speak.
Please help us!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Allahu Akbar.
SALAH (voice-over): They bombed my home. They killed my cousin. And a lot of (INAUDIBLE) injured, hard injured. Terrible things happened.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (from captions): I condemn you, Bashar al-Assad. God help us!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Abu Salah was a blacksmith living in Al-Rastan, one of the first cities to rise up against the Assad regime.
And in retaliation it was completely flattened by the Syrian army.
He made his mission to record the destruction of the loss of life, to tell the world about the horror of the war unfolding around him.
SALAH: After that I decide to leave Syria just for save my family and myself.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Abu Salah brought his family to Turkey. He made frequent trips back to Syria by himself, compelled to keep
documenting the war, hoping it would make a difference until the day he couldn't take it anymore and felt the world was just not listening.
SALAH: I'm a human being. I am not animal.
(from captions): Abu Salah decided to make the journey to Europe. He thought it best to go alone and send for his family later. He reached the
western coast of Turkey and joined thousands of refugees looking for a boat to Greece.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Abu Salah spent a week in Izmir preparing for the journey.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): This is the best captain! The best captain ever!
SALAH (voice-over): The smuggler choose me to drive this boat because anyone can drive the boat, he go free without paying the money, $1,200.
But when I decide to drive this boat, I cannot imagine all these people, 57 people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): After 2.5 hours at --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): -- sea, the group arrive on a tiny Greek island, their first steps on European soil.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): Where are you going?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): Germany.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): They traveled on by bus through Greece, then continued on foot into Macedonia. They reached the border at
dawn, where they rested. Then they followed railway tracks heading north.
SALAH: It's hard for this child.
I carry a lot of child in this journey. But I feeling, this is my daughter.
SALAH (from captions): Wasn't that a beautiful train?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): They boarded a train to take them to the Serbian border. It dropped them just short and they had to trudge
through forests in the dead of night to reach Serbia.
SALAH (voice-over): It was really cold. The children all the time hungry, need the water. Very tired. Very tired.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): Keep going. Keep going. Don't stop.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): The women and children did their best to keep up the pace. All the way, they slept rough.
After hours of waiting, finally a train arrives to take them north. Silent and exhausted, they trek through the night to make it across the
Hungarian border, desperately trying not to get caught by police patrols.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): There is a car. Hide, hide.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): But the rain they could not escape.
After Hungary, Abu Salah traveled by himself up to Germany and ended up in Belgium. He's in a refugee center, hoping to be granted asylum and
for his family eventually to join him.
AMANPOUR: And when we come back, we turn to what one activist hee calls horrific child abuse. As Britain says, it will now enforce its ban
on the barbaric practice of female genital mutilation. More than 100 million women worldwide have been forcibly cut up like this. Next, we take
an unflinching look and we speak with a survivor.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.
Now one of the most savage assaults on young girls around the world today is female genital mutilation. It is not a religious practice but it
is a centuries-old custom that continues, despite the growing efforts to ban it, including right here in Britain.
The government has now stepped in to enforce a new law that's mandating doctors, nurses and teachers across this country to report any
cases they come across on pain of being fired if they do not report these cases.
Around the world, things are changing but not fast enough. Since I was with a CNN --
AMANPOUR: -- team in Cairo 20 years ago and our camerawoman, Mary Rogers, and our correspondent were able to film the most disturbing and
heartbreaking story of one Egyptian girl's story, which we want to show you again tonight.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Nedla is 10 years old. She's excited to be the center of attention, fearful of what might happen next.
This morning she will be circumcised.
Haq Omar is known in Arabic as a "hygienic barber." He circumcises thousands of girls each year, as did his father before him. He doesn't
bother to wash his hands or the child.
A ripped sheet makes a crude bandage around her waist. The family celebrates.
The operation will be quick, without anesthetic.
"Shame on you," chides the barber, "it's finished. Soon you can get up and go play."
Officially, the Egyptian government condemns female genital mutilation but it turns a blind eye to the practice. Studies show 80 percent to 90
percent of lower income girls are circumcised, usually in unhygienic operations that can lead to infection and severe blood loss.
"Daddy, daddy," screams Nedla.
"There is a sin upon all of you."
Nedla's family fears that without circumcision, she'll become sexually promiscuous. It's not known why Egyptians traditionally circumcise their
daughters. The family believes it's part of Islam but religious scholars disagree.
It's almost unheard of in other Islamic countries.
"I want you to know, Daddy, that I didn't want to be circumcised and you did it to me," Nedla says.
"Don't be a brat," her grandmother calls.
"It's over," says her father.
"Be brave, Nedla. Be brave."
AMANPOUR: It is tragic, not just what happened to her but the reaction of her family as well. That was back in 1994. And yet, to this
day, millions of girls are illegally circumcised still in Egypt and around the world every single year.
Joining me now here on set is Leyla Hussein, she's a survivor of that practice and she's also an anti-FGM campaigner.
Welcome to the program.
You know, as heartbreaking and as awful to watch as that was and is, is it actually important to put that out on television still today?
LEYLA HUSSEIN, FGM SURVIVOR AND ACTIVIST: I mean, it is obviously extremely upsetting and you can talk about FGM all day, every day, and read
about it, but I think sometimes showing images of what actually happens to these girls, it puts it in perspective.
AMANPOUR: And the terror of that little girl, who actually thought something wonderful was going to happen to her. She'd been told that it
was a party, a celebration.
You yourself are a survivor of this practice.
HUSSEIN: I mean, watching that clip, I mean, it takes me back to my own experience. And I think people need to understand, when that girl
obviously was happy, there's a grooming process, a talk before that, you know, making someone think this is a great idea.
But actually, in theory, she really doesn't know actually what's going to happen. I think that's what happened to my myself and over 140 million
women. There is a grooming process involved in this.
We were led to believe this is actually great for us but actually, in theory, FGM is fundamentally child abuse and it's one of the worst forms of
violence against women and girls. And I think that's how it needs to be approached.
AMANPOUR: And Leyla, it was your mother, who led yours, right?
Your father was away.
HUSSEIN: Absolutely. I mean, it's not just my mother, it's the whole family. The neighbors are involved. You know, extended family members are
So my mom was under this immense pressure, if we didn't have this done, me and my sister, we would be stigmatized. And I remember actually
my first day of school, the girls said, oh, have you had this done?
And I said yes.
And they said, "Oh, we can play with you now."
So I remember, it was actually one of those moments when I thought, oh --
AMANPOUR: -- rite of passage.
HUSSEIN: Oh, absolutely. It's part of your identity.
But, you know, my mom was also a victim of this. You know, this practice, so it's really, it's a very complex issue but obviously we can't
also stay silent on it. It's really important that we use the right language when we talk about that.
AMANPOUR: Well, you have not stayed silent and you've collected tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of signatures; you have forced
this government as well as others to take action against it.
How important is what the government said today, that all doctors, nurses, teachers must report or be fired this week?
HUSSEIN: Absolutely. It's about time people were accountable for this because, again, I always used example when I was pregnant with my
daughter, my scar, my hand, burnt cigar, was actually recorded by my FGM scar was never recorded.
So nobody took the appropriate steps to actually support me as someone who's been through this. So, I think, I absolutely welcome the mandatory
reporting for health professionals to make sure the women and girls who come under their care are protected from this. So it's absolutely
AMANPOUR: I just to want play also a report that we've just received from our Nima Elbagir from Kenya, because it does show that, while the one
in Egypt sort of happened in, as we said, this sort of party, rite of passage way, now, the numbers in Kenya are dropping dramatically.
AMANPOUR: But also it's happening in the shadows, as she found out.
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The practice of cutting is often handed down through the same family, through the generations, from mother
to daughter and so on and so on. They think of themselves as being the arbiters of a moral code, not just for these families but for the community
as a whole.
One such family, one such mother-daughter team, today has agreed to meet with us in secret in their home.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We are doing it because it is important for us. It's because when girls don't get cut when they are
young, they go after boys while they are still young and we don't want that. We don't want them to get spoiled. That's why we do it.
ELBAGIR: FGM is illegal in Kenya but that doesn't stop it happening. All that happens in practice is that it gets pushed into darkened rooms
like this one. This is where the girls are brought and they're laid down on the floor on plastic sheeting like this. These are the ropes that are
used to tie the girls down.
ELBAGIR: These are the razor blades that they cut them with.
ELBAGIR (voice-over): It's not just Kenyan girls that are cut as FGM is known. British girls with family ties to Kenya are also brought here
during their school holidays.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We sit down the girl, someone blindfolds her and lays her down on the ground. Then we cut. We
cut three times.
Then you put the ethanol spirit, you take the ethanol spirit like this and pour it on the wound. The ethanol is a bit painful but it stops
We blindfold them and put hands over their mouths; they don't even scream because, if they do, their agemates will despise them. So they hold
it back and endure the pain. They can't make noise because of what other girls might think of them.
ELBAGIR (voice-over): FGM is, of course, as illegal back in Britain as it is here in Kenya but the law in both countries seems powerless in the
face of centuries of this torturous cultural practice -- Nima Elbagir, CNN, Nairobi.
AMANPOUR: So your reaction to that, decreasing but nonetheless still happening.
HUSSEIN: Unfortunately, I mean, I would like to commend Kenya for really being at the forefront in terms of global work in trying to end FGM.
However, we can't also stay silent on the reality, where girls are still being cut. And my concern has always been diaspora girls, taken back
to the -- Kenya and to be cut.
Oh, no, no. We know, we know it happens. And it's really important when tackling FGM that we do -- we don't just focus on one area. I think
diaspora is also a big issue.
AMANPOUR: And we're looking at this map right now, which is basically all over the world where it's happening, the big red blocks, where above 80
percent happens and on and on down there. I mean it's really just something that is incredible.
And I think, really importantly, I want to ask you, you know, many people associate this not just with religion but with the Islamic religion.
But the UNICEF has said that 55 percent of Christians are affected by FGM in a country such as Niger, compared to just 2 percent of Muslims in that
So it's not religion and it's all religions.
HUSSEIN: No, absolutely, it's -- again, it's to make it very clear, FGM is practiced by all religions. Obviously not -- the holy books don't
promote FGM at all but I think somehow FGM was always associated with Islam. And I think because the survivors that spoke out are from Islamic
background but we are very aware, you know, I know personally, as a therapist, I work with women who are Christians, Jewish, non-believers.
So, for me, it's recognizing this, it's not a religious practice, it's a form of -- it's a form of a practice where it's -- the aim to control
women's sexuality, full stop. This is why this happens really.
So I think it would be easy for all of us if we just kept reaching out of this conversation. It just makes it easier and to face and deal with --
AMANPOUR: You brought out, you know, the issue of sexuality. You know, one campaign, campaigner sort of said that, you know, it's a manmade
practice to control women, as you've just said.
Why do they choose our genitals and not our hands and not our legs?
Because they need our hands to cook and clean for them and they need our legs for us to go out and work and make money.
HUSSEIN: Listen, I know who that is, Agnes Pereira (ph) from Kenya, who said this to me years ago, absolutely. There's a reason why our
genitals were specifically targeted.
You know, women are not supposed to have sexual pleasure. Women are not supposed to experiment with their sexuality.
So we need to ask ourselves, why is there such a focus on women's sexuality, not necessarily so much on boys?
So that really is the challenge.
So why does my body have to be controlled or monitored, you know, policed, you know, by the police of morals, I would call, and somehow the
history of my genitals has become an issue for a whole community?
So that really is what I need -- what we need to challenge. And I've always said, as a woman, why do I, if I'm supposed to be the weaker sex,
why do I have to hold the honor of my family?
And my brother, supposedly the stronger sex but, you know, if a man sees a woman's naked neck, he rapes her, he couldn't help himself.
Women need to challenge those attitudes before we deal with -- you know, before FGM or any forms of oppression of women actually ends.
AMANPOUR: We do indeed.
Leyla Hussein, thank you for all the work you do.
HUSSEIN: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
AMANPOUR: Thank you for coming on.
AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, unless you're living in a cave somewhere, you must have heard about what Michelle Payne has done.
She's the first female jockey who's won one of the world's most prestigious horse races. But here we're still having a hard time imagining
a world where its taken 155 years for a woman to ride first past that post in Australia's historic Melbourne Cup and that she's only the fourth woman
ever to have competed in the race at all.
Michelle Payne was facing 100:1 odds but the dark horse kicked down the barn doors and broke the sport wide open with her tremendous victory.
And racing has always been in her blood. Eight members of her family have taken to the track before.
And her brother, Stevie, who suffers from Down syndrome, saddled up her horse for her, the Prince of Penzance. And she used her victory lap
afterwards to thank her family and to blast the all-boys' network that's been dominating the game.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE PAYNE, WINNER, THE MELBOURNE CUP: I just can't say how grateful I am today. I just want to say to everyone else, get stuffed,
because they think women aren't strong enough. But we'll just beat the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Indeed, indeed. And full disclosure: I have my own horse in the race.
Well, it's not mine and it's not in the Melbourne Cup just yet. But I'm incredibly chuffed to know that the owners of a 5-year-old chestnut
mare who's won four races so far have called her Amanpour.
Attagirl. That's in Australia.
And that's it for our program tonight. Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.