Return to Transcripts main page


The Role of Religion in Countering Extremism; Nasheed, Clooney Push for Maldives Reform; Imagine a World. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired January 29, 2016 - 14:00   ET




CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: an act of faith, a rare moment of truth and responsibility. Two prominent Islamic leaders

tell me that religious leaders must do more to root out the cancer of extremism and violence.

Plus, free from jail: the island president who held his first cabinet meeting underwater to highlight dangerous climate change. The former

leader of the Maldives joins me with the woman who got him out of jail, at least for now, high-profile lawyer Amal Clooney.


AMAL CLOONEY, HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER: At the moment, the government still says we want him back in a prison cell in 30 days. And his only crime is

being a real threat to the government.



AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the special weekend edition of our program. I'm Christiane Amanpour.

As the world struggles with a constant rise in extremist violence and more and more crimes committed in the name of religion, we hear from the leader

of the world's Anglican community, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who says fighting this scourge will be a global, generational struggle.

The pope himself traveled to the Central African Republic recently, where Christians are waging war against Muslims.

And we hear from major Islamic leaders, one Sunni, one Shiite, who admit this, quote, "cancer of violence and terrorism" must be rooted out from

people who use their religion to justify it, too.

I sat down at the World Economic Forum in Davos to talk about ending this global religious war with Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury;

Shawki Ibrahim Allam, the grand mufti of Egypt and a Sunni Muslim; and also the president of the Center for Islamic Study in the United States,

Ayatollah Ahmad Iravani, a Shiite Muslim.


AMANPOUR: Let me ask you all to comment on where we are; I sort of said global religious war.

How do you address that from your perspective?

And then from your perspective, Dr. Welby, in terms of how it affects extremism?

SHAWKI IBRAHIM ABDEL-KARIM ALLAM, EGYPTIAN GRAND MUFTI (through translator): We are all in the same boat and one can say that we have to

share the responsibility of righting this ship. If we do manage things the way we should, then we will be faced with many dangers.

We face a historical responsibility and we should shoulder this responsibility and think about things deeply.

I think that the problem of terrorism is the most fundamental one at present. There are other reasons; therefore, we must examine them. We

must identify them. They're political ones and economic ones and social ones.

AMANPOUR: I'm sure, as world religious leaders, you will all say that in none of your books does there exist --


AMANPOUR: -- any justification for terrorism. But unfortunately, religious texts are being used to justify terrorism, violence, extremism.

How do you stop the extremism in our communities?

JUSTIN WELBY, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY: Well, very clearly, at the moment, we do it almost totally ineffectively. The evidence is simply that.

I hesitate in agreeing entirely with the idea that -- it's certainly not justified in our sacred scriptures

But within all our traditions, there is something that leads people to violence.

And until we accept that and, as mainstream religious leaders, take responsibility for it rather than saying, they're not really Christians who

killed the people at Srebrenica, so it's not my problem -- if we do that, we can never face it.

It's global and it's generational; it is also ideological and theological.

And until we address that, we will fail.

AMANPOUR: Dr. Iravani, do you agree?

I mean, that's a pretty blunt acceptance of responsibility on the archbishop's side.

Do you take responsibility in terms of the wider Shia or Muslim faith?

AHMAD IRAVANI, CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF ISLAM AND THE MIDDLE EAST: I would like to emphasize on the issue of extremism in general and wider extremism

in particular, both of them -- I can call them a kind of mental epidemic disease that goes everywhere.

No -- doesn't recognize border and doesn't recognize or doesn't limit to any ideology or religion.

So I agree that we, as a Muslim, also should take responsibility of what's happening in the name of Islam, although we all say that Islam is the words

of peace.

But as a -- as a reality there are some kind of cancers and diseases that is happening now within the Muslim community, that must be addressed.

AMANPOUR: You know, it's great to hear you say that, sitting on this stage. We almost never hear that when we interview leaders on television

or when there are public debates.

It's all so heated that we never hear a leading cleric, a religious leader, for instance, the Grand Mufti of Egypt, actually saying there is a cancer

in part of our society and part of our religion.

ALLAM (through translator): This serious disease, I think, has three different levels. Firstly, we need prevention. Secondly, we need real

treatment and then thirdly there needs to be completely eradication; if we can create the analogy with cancer, then sometimes you need to take out the

tumor, remove it.

We try to correct incorrect concepts that have been spread from ideas that have been distorted and spread in their distorted form. There's also a

political and an economic responsibility. There's a responsibility when it comes to education.

The school curriculum needs to be reformed and changed. We call upon everyone to join the fight.

IRAVANI: We have to find the causes of this kind of extremism. Now for that, different causes there, I just want to say a few of them, the most

important one from my perspective, that create kind of extremism, there are external elements; for example, let's take the Middle East case.

Now the intervention of the countries by non-Muslims and superpowers, the issue of injustice and poverty, missing of hope for the future, the

political corruption of the governments, OK?

And these are the elements --


AMANPOUR: Your governments, the governments in the region?

IRAVANI: In the -- in the region, of course -- of the government in the region, not participation or taking in -- I don't -- in account the rule of

the people, within their political system seriously, all of these are adding to the growth of extremism.

But from a clergyman, from a man of religion, from a student of religion, also we have responsibilities.

AMANPOUR: I went to speak to the Grand Mufti of Paris, Mr. Boubakeur, after the "Charlie Hebdo" massacre at the beginning of last year and after

the Friday 13th massacre at the end of last year.

And he said the following: "We tell our young people not to fall into these traps. We explain that this is wrong.

"But then we're told by the young people that you don't know what you're talking about. You are out of touch and out of date, that you are from a

different generation, sir, and leave it to us."

He's seeing an increasing hard line and pushing to the -- to the extremist --


AMANPOUR: -- version of Islam even in Europe.

IRAVANI: We realize that. And I think many people were agreed, that part of the reason is the Muslim, especially in France, has been marginalized

and stigmatized. They are looking at them as "others". They are not looking at them, the community, as one community, as one human being.

But again, at the same time, I have to confess that we, as the people of religion, need to be more educated, more updated about using technology,

about the ways that we can also talk to the young generation, and somehow they are right, that many of our ideas are old, are not updated.

So that's the fact as well. But that's not the only reason.

AMANPOUR: And Sheikh Allam, your view?

ALLAM (through translator): No country can achieve prosperity and growth without its youth. And therefore we have to interact with the youth and we

have to use the means of their generation and we have to adopt their modern thinking. We mustn't dwell too much on the past.

We dealt with young people by creating many pages on the Internet, many sites to warn young people against false ideas and extremism.

We created a Facebook page. And more than 3 million people visit this page on Facebook and on this page we spread correct ideas with the goal of

protecting young people.

We also created a magazine called insite (ph), bazira (ph) in Arabic. It is published in English and it tries to respond to daish's ideas and

provide a response based on scientific thinking.

WELBY: We have lost the capacity in Europe to use theological values to discuss our differences in society generally. It's become confined to the

religious world, which means we no longer have a way of answering the challenge of the extremists.

We no longer have the vocabulary. We say, better materialism will help us.

Nobody goes to Syria because they think they'll get a better car next year. It just isn't the way they're thinking. It's a theological and ideological


And until in Europe we regain the capacity to use theological and ideological vocabulary, we will not be able to counter extremism

effectively. We've lost our own roots.

AMANPOUR: On that note, Archbishop Justin Welby, Dr. Iravani and Sheikh Allam, thank you very much for this fascinating discussion.



AMANPOUR: And the pall of extremist violence reaches even an island paradise like the Maldives, the highest per capita exporter of recruits to

ISIS today. When we come back, I speak to the former president and just- released Mohamed Nasheed and his lawyer, Amal Clooney. That's after a break.




AMANPOUR: Welcome back.

Should he stay or should he go?

That's the question now facing the Maldives' deposed president, Mohamed Nasheed. As the first democratically elected leader there, he won fame for

holding his first cabinet meeting underwater --


AMANPOUR: -- to warn that climate change and rising seas could do untold damage to his low-lying island nation.

Deposed in 2012 and jailed two years later, he's now got a 30-day medical reprieve here in London, thanks to international pressure and the renowned

human rights lawyer, Amal Clooney. They join me for their only joint interview.


AMANPOUR: President Nasheed, Amal Clooney, welcome to the program.

You've been in solitary confinement, in prison for so long, how does it feel just to be out and reunited with your family?

MOHAMED NASHEED, FORMER PRESIDENT, MALDIVES: Well, it's always lovely to be free, even for a short period of time.

I've spent most of my adult life in jail --

AMANPOUR: That's a pretty remarkable thing to say, actually.

"I've spent most of my adult life in jail."

It's not usual. It's not normal.

NASHEED: Well, I wouldn't recommend even doing that, either. But, unfortunately, we've had a situation in the Maldives, where freedom of

expression, freedom of assembly and most basic individual human rights are denied.

And my work has taken me into conflict with the dictatorship that has been entrenched in the Maldives for so many years.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you, Amal, from that point of view, first of all, you've done it again. You've got another guy out of jail.


CLOONEY: We're so happy obviously to have President Nasheed here in London. It was a really emotional moment to be at the airport with his

wife and then he being reunited with his children. And, yes, we went almost straightaway to Downing Street following --

AMANPOUR: Which we have that picture right there.

CLOONEY: -- an invitation from Prime Minister Cameron. So it's been a whirlwind but --

AMANPOUR: And what was that about?

Why did you go straight to Downing Street?

CLOONEY: Well, we've been engaged with the U.K. authorities as well as the U.S. government and the E.U. on this case. We've had the support, the

strong support of the prime minister himself and also the foreign office here and Secretary Kerry in the U.S., who've all been making statements

throughout President Nasheed's ordeal, recognizing that there were due process violations and calling for him to be released and calling for real

reform by the government.

AMANPOUR: Where do we go from here?

I mean, you have been granted, I believe, a 30-day reprieve in order to have back surgery.

Is that going to happen?

NASHEED: Well, I've had these chronic backaches for quite some time. I was tortured twice during my -- in my 20s. Then again to have restraint,

being in these conditions, have not -- you know, it doesn't help -- it doesn't help my condition. So the doctors, the prison doctors said that I

should have surgery.

AMANPOUR: You can imagine -- and this is to both of you -- the Maldivian government is already probably having second thoughts about releasing you,

because they've already said, this is not medical leave; this is media leave. They don't like the fact that you're taking to the media, that

you're talking.

What do you say to them about that?

CLOONEY: I think they're doing the least that they think they have to do, based on the amount of international pressure that they feel. So they say

that they're doing this for humanitarian reasons.

His medical issues have persisted for a long while and they've known that he had to seek medical treatment abroad and they've been reluctant to agree

to it until, I think, we took our case of the targeted sanctions to the U.S. and have brought it to the E.U., too.

And only when they felt there could be real consequences to their intransigence and to their increased authoritarianism did they actually

budge. And they will do it in the most limited manner that the international community allows them to get away with.

AMANPOUR: You must have thought you'd died and gone to heaven when she took your case.

NASHEED: She's an excellent lawyer and she has helped us, me and the people of the Maldives, immensely.

AMANPOUR: What do you do now, though?

Do you go back after 30 days?

Do you risk staying out and never being allowed to go back?

What happens next?

NASHEED: Well, that's what I'm having this conversation with my lawyers and see what I should be doing, you know.

Ideally, I would like to go to a Maldives which is free, where political -- peaceful political activities can happen.

AMANPOUR: Do you want to be president again?

Do you want to fight the next election?

NASHEED: I think I will have to fight the next election. It's unfinished business. It's -- everything seems to be very half-baked. But I would

rather sit and read and watch a film. But I think, you know, there's a lot that has to be done.

AMANPOUR: They charged you on terrorism charges, right?

You've said publicly that, because of ISIS and all the terrorism, you know, to date, around the world, it's only a matter of time before we see a major

attack on the tourist beaches of the Maldives, like in Tunisia.

Explain why you say that?

CLOONEY: I think people are shocked when they understand that the Maldives, at the moment, has the highest per capita rate of recruitment to

ISIS of any country in the world. That's over 200 Maldivian fighters who have gone to Iraq or Syria. And the government at the moment is just

turning a blind eye to that.

So when people return to the country, they don't prosecute them. There was --


CLOONEY: -- a pro-ISIS rally held in the streets of Male and nobody was arrested. And, instead, the people they are arresting are journalists and

human rights activists and opposition leaders.

So the leadership of every opposition party is behind bars. And President Nasheed was behind bars but let's not forget -- and he's here in London,

we're delighted that he's here -- but, at the moment, the government still says we want him back in a prison cell in 30 days.

And his only crime is being a real threat to the government. They don't want to see him run in 2018, because they probably think he'll win the

elections. And he's been the most moderate, liberal, inspirational leader that country's ever had.

And, you know, they shouldn't have the right to just take away the right of the Maldivian people to vote for him if that's what they want.

AMANPOUR: Why, if you're so moderate and liberal, is there this flourish of a really hard-line Wahhabi Islam in the Maldives?

It didn't just happen last year. This must have been going on even under your own presidency.

NASHEED: Since the '70s, the Maldives society, like many other Islamic societies, have been changing. We've taken on a very narrow understanding

of Islam. And that understanding has very much become the mainstream.

AMANPOUR: Do you think, like Amal, and everybody's terrified, tourists who go to places like the Maldives are just terrified that they could pick up

AK-47s and do, you know, carnage on the beaches?

NASHEED: Well, I think we have to be very, very careful. I think the government needs to do a lot more in securing our people, securing our

society, as well as our trade. I think there's a whole lot more that has to be done.

And I think there's a lot of money involved in recruitment of terrorists to Syria.

And if these recruitment rings, networks, are not found and rooted out from the Maldives, as in other countries, it's going to be difficult for us to

address that. We had just last week, again, 11 more people going.

AMANPOUR: Eleven more Maldivians have gone to ISIS.

NASHEED: Yes. We've heard of --

AMANPOUR: So it's increasing?

NASHEED: It hasn't stopped.

AMANPOUR: You have defended journalists who are in prison in Egypt. Luckily, they're all free. And now you're defending Khadija Ismayilova,

somebody who I know and we presented a prize to in New York a few years ago, who's under imprisonment, accused of exposing corruption or whatever.

What hopes do you have for her case?

CLOONEY: Well, first of all, she's not accused of exposing corruption but that's the real reason they're going after her is because she exposed

corruption by the Aliyev regime.

They've charged her with -- initially they charged her with inciting somebody else's suicide and then they manufactured a whole host of other

charges, like tax evasion and illegal entrepreneurship, which is quite creative.

I mean, I have some hope that we will see justice in that case. Initially, it's a purely legal proceeding that we're using; because the -- because

Azerbaijan is a member of the Council of Europe and so we're taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

The court has accepted that the case is admissible. So we will be arguing it.

We've got lots of third-party NGOs intervening in the case, because they realize this is a really important case for freedom of expression in Europe

and also for -- to expose a lack of fair trial.

AMANPOUR: Mohamed Nasheed, Amal Clooney, thank you very much indeed for joining us today.

CLOONEY: Thank you, Christiane, for having us.

NASHEED: Thank you, Christiane.


AMANPOUR: From a former president to a presidential hopeful, Donald Trump says he's tough enough to, quote, "make America great again."

But did he run away from a smart woman with tough questions?





AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world where misogyny and sexism are part of mainstream political discourse, at least in this extraordinary

race for the American presidency.

Donald Trump, who leads the Republican pack, has done it again, this time blasting FOX anchor Megyn Kelly.

Trump tweeted, "I refuse to call Megyn Kelly a bimbo, because that would not be politically correct. Instead, I will only call her a lightweight


Well, Megyn Kelly is neither a bimbo nor a lightweight. She's actually got a law degree and is generally accepted to be FOX News' brightest and most

balanced star.

But Trump has taken his personal verbal boxing match with her to the mat, bailing out of FOX's Republican debate tomorrow night unless FOX bails on

Kelly. Trump wants her ousted as moderator after her questions got under his skin in the last FOX debate.


MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS HOST: You've called women you don't like fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals. Your Twitter account --


KELLY: No, it wasn't. For the record, it was well beyond Rosie O'Donnell.

TRUMP: Yes, I'm sure it was.


AMANPOUR: He then went on CNN to add insult to insult with this incomprehensible follow-up.


TRUMP: She gets out and she starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions. And, you know, you could see there was blood coming out of her

eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.

AMANPOUR: But his anti-female tirades are legion. Early on, he rounded on fellow Republican contender, Carly Fiorina, attacking her looks, telling

"Rolling Stone" magazine, "Look at that face, would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?"

On stage later, she shot back.


CARLY FIORINA (R), CALIF.: You know, it's interesting to me, Mr. Trump said that he heard Mr. Bush very clearly and what Mr. Bush said. I think

women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.


AMANPOUR: They say that when you're in a hole, a deeply misogynistic one, you should just stop digging. This, apparently, is not advice that Trump

seems to heed.

So we say sexism in any form is unacceptable, especially among those who would seek the highest office of any land and who must be expected to

defend and promote women's rights and gender justice.

And, by the way, in case you missed it, women were the only ones who turned up to work in the U.S. Senate during Snowmageddon on Tuesday.

And that is it for our program tonight. Remember, you can now also listen to our podcast, see us online at and follow me on Facebook and

Twitter. Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.