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U.S. Basketball Legend Endorses Clinton; New York's Hip-Hop Radio, Music and Deep Dialogue; Egyptian Satirist Explores American Politics; Imagine a World. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired April 19, 2016 - 14:00:00   ET




CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: as New Yorkers go to the polls, our special take on this primary day with basketball Hall of

Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Why he's backing Hillary Clinton.


KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR, NBA PRO: She gets things done, she knows who the bad guys are and she knows how to deal with them. I think we will definitely

be in the best hands with Hillary. And that's not to say anything bad about Mr. Sanders. He's a fine choice. But I think Hillary is the best



AMANPOUR (voice-over): And we're also keeping it real on race in presidential politics with New York's hippest hip-hop radio station.

And stay tuned for this special guest.


BASSEM YOUSSEF, EGYPTIAN SATIRIST: Hello, I'm Bassem Youssef. We're going to talk tonight about the American elections, some stuff in the Middle East

and some (INAUDIBLE) in Turkey and some stuff in other places.


AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

For Democrats it is the biggest prize to date and no small take for Republicans, either. Primary day in New York has voters from Brooklyn to

the Canadian border cast their ballots. The outcome is all but assured, with 291 Democratic delegates at stake, Hillary is expected to end Bernie's

recent winning streak and move the nomination even further out of his reach.

And on the Republican side, native New Yorker Donald Trump holds an enormous lead. A win for him might stave off, for the moment, all talk of

a contested Republican convention.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, meanwhile, is America's greatest basketball player, the NBA's all-time leading scorer, even 27 years after retiring from the

Los Angeles Lakers.

He is also the sports world's leading intellectual, who has written extensively about race and politics and quotes "The Age of Reason" and The

Enlightenment. In the face of Donald Trump's race-baiting and anti-Muslim comments, President Obama hailed Kareem as a leading Muslim American.

Secretary Clinton named him a cultural ambassador and this week, he took his deep political thoughts to "The Washington Post" to back Hillary for


I asked him why and what are the stakes when he joined me from New York.


AMANPOUR: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, welcome to our program.

ABDUL-JABBAR: Hi, Christiane, how are you?

AMANPOUR: I'm great. It's New York primary day, everybody's talking about it and even here, around the world, people are fixated on this U.S.


Are you surprised by that first of all?

ABDUL-JABBAR: No, I'm not. This is a very important election. A lot of people say that all the time and at every federal election. But this one

is very important. The country is going through a whole lot of serious turmoil and we need to straighten it out.

AMANPOUR: And not to mention the cast of characters.

Are you surprised about, in many quarters, the somewhat circus-like atmosphere of this election?

ABDUL-JABBAR: I am surprised. It's so much departure from what we've experienced before now, where everybody went by the rules and was very

polite and things went according to plan. We have people involved in it now that do not care about the plans.

AMANPOUR: Well, let me get to this very interesting column that you wrote for "The Washington Post," explaining why you are voting, because you are a

Democrat, why you're supporting Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders. And we just touched on the importance of this election.

First, I want to ask you, what do you mean when you say, "This election is about the difference between hell and reason,"?

ABDUL-JABBAR: Well, that is a reference to Albert Camus, when he spoke about the new world that we were entering with the advent of the atomic

bomb. And did we have such extreme choices to make?

And it seems like in this election, we have a very extreme choice to make and we have to really figure out what's going to be the best for our

country. The intellectually lazy people in the world rely on force and fear to make their point and I think we have to go to logic and common

sense to make our choice for the next President of the United States.

And that's why I'm supporting Hillary Clinton.

AMANPOUR: Well, tell me, why are you supporting Hillary Clinton?

Because there are huge numbers of foot soldiers marching for Bernie Sanders, particularly young people.


AMANPOUR: Why are you voting for Hillary and supporting her?

ABDUL-JABBAR: Well, I feel that Bernie Sanders also is an excellent choice but I think Hillary can get things done. She has the experience that is

necessary to deal with all of these issues and she also has the support of a lot of people. And that is always a key issue in a race like this.

So I'm supporting Hillary because she actually can get things done. She knows who the bad guys are and she knows how to deal with them. I think we

will definitely be in the best hands with Hillary. And that's not to say anything bad about Mr. Sanders. He's a fine choice but I think Hillary is

the best choice.

AMANPOUR: What about the black community?

Traditionally people have suggested that, when it comings to the Democrats, certainly in the last 20-plus years, the Clintons have blacks and other

minorities as their natural constituents.

Is that going to be the case?

How do you think this New York primary is going to pan out in the Democratic side?

And how can the Clintons still count on the black vote and black support?

ABDUL-JABBAR: Well, what we've seen in the primaries is that, especially in the South, Hillary gets the support of the black community and I think

that that will continue.

Black Americans have suffered a lot; you know, America was very tolerant of Jim Crow and the Clintons were able to really be involved in eliminating

the last vestiges of Jim Crow as far as they affected black Americans.

Racism is still an issue in our country and we need people that have some wisdom with regard to that issue, in the seat of power, so that they can do

the right things at the right time.

AMANPOUR: You mentioned Jim Crow and I want to delve a little bit, because recently you gave an interview in which you explained why you yourself

became a Muslim. You talked about having grown up in the Jim Crow era or at least with the vestiges of Jim Crow legislation and that was one of the

motivators for you, changing your religion.

ABDUL-JABBAR: Well, I think that the whole history of life in America made me very suspicious of Christianity, not that there's anything wrong with


But it made me look for something else where I could deal with people who were not being hypocritical about it. Of course, we know that hypocrisy

crosses all lines and borders and ethnicities, so Muslims don't have any exclusive hold on being upright.

But I felt that the history of Islam really appealed to me in that sense.

AMANPOUR: So fast forward to what Donald Trump has been saying in his campaign, the rhetoric against minorities but also Muslims, the threat to

ban all Muslims if he became president or just saying that he should and it should be done right now.

How is that playing out, do you think?

And can you understand this kind of rhetoric at the top levels of American political power?

ABDUL-JABBAR: The people at the top level of American power cannot be people who want to divide us. And Mr. Trump, everything that he says deals

with dividing Americans into little small groups. And he wants them to be hostile toward each other and suspicious.

That's not going to help anything. We have to understand who our friends are and who our enemies are and deal with them in that manner.

But just having a blanket suspicious veil thrown over all Muslims is very bigoted and it should not be the stance that the President of the United

States takes. And I hope that he doesn't win the election and start a regime of that type of harassment and bigotry. It's not going to do any

good for our country.

AMANPOUR: In fact, you wrote an open letter and you warned people about this, what you called false prophet, as you described Donald Trump.

But can I just switch to the fervor behind him and behind Bernie Sanders, obviously on different ends of the political spectrum?

But a lot of frustrated people, whether they're frustrated, you know, blue- collar workers or whatever, who have lost their jobs, all on the Bernie Sanders' side. The young people who are frustrated with gridlock in


Is that a legitimate gripe as far as you're concerned?

ABDUL-JABBAR: I think that's a legitimate gripe. I think both polls of what you just spoke about are pretty accurate, that people have a lot to

complain about, about the way our elected officials have really ignored the middle class in America and sent jobs overseas and done things that show

that they're pretty indifferent to the middle class.


ABDUL-JABBAR: So many politicians spend their time chasing money that they will use for their next election and ignore the needs of their

constituents. I think that has to change. And I'm sure that Hillary will not be that type of person.

AMANPOUR: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, thank you so much for joining me from New York on this primary day.

ABDUL-JABBAR: You're welcome.


AMANPOUR: And, of course, to reach New York voters, both Democratic candidates turned to one radio station to make their case: Hot 97, with a

reputation for making hip-hop as popular as it is today and a must-stop for politicians trying to woo the young and the hip.

Music, of course, is still the station's main currency but tune in between 5:00 and 10:00 every morning and discover deep and honest discussions of

the hottest political topics, with hosts who are as diverse as the city itself.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of us have had interaction with white people who have said, I don't like hip-hop but I like Eminem.


And in their mind, that's not racist. You're saying you like Eminem because you see him or hear the tone of his voice and there's a

relatability there. So it's digestible for you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that we're all prejudiced, I think we all make race-based judgments, gender-based judgments, judgments based on people's

outlook. We're all prejudiced in some way. I think we all need to challenge that if we're going to have the America that we believe is


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's frustrating when you're a sincere white person who cares about something that's not even related to you and then you do it and

people have the audacity to go, you don't actually care.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's so mean. Sometimes people care.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's vulnerable to have a conversation on the radio, when you're being really honest and your mike is on and you know New York

is listening.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that people love us because we're so honest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The listening audience, the population that comes to listen is literally a third, a third, a third. It is a third Caucasian, a

third Spanish and a third black.


What's your name?



You're Caribbean?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that's a testament to hip-hop music.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now we getting to it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Josh from Brooklyn.

Naughty from the BX.

Bear in Long Island.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because the culture of hip-hop was a very inclusive music culture developed here in New York City.

Gayle from Brooklyn, her husband is a Trump supporter, he wants to tussle over this political conversation with us here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've already decided that the hatred for the Obama administration is clearly a race thing. There's nothing else that really

makes sense.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, Senator Bernie Sanders has stepped in the room on --




SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VT., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: His father was born in Kenya. My father in Poland. Nobody asked me for my birth certificate.

Think it has something to do with the color of my skin, maybe?

I do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe it's a direct line to people not being comfortable with their leader not being like them. And they're used to

their entire life with their leader looking and being just like them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, Secretary Clinton.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's completely unrealistic to have a conversation with Hillary and not talk about sexism.

CLINTON: I want to break down all the barriers that are holding Americans back. And I have -- I've seen over the course of my life that we've made

progress but not enough.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're sold this idea that, in America, you're free. And you're sold this idea that things are fair when you're coming up. And

when you realize that they're not, it hurts. It hurts real bad.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We really, really connect with our audience, because we're living what everybody else is living.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This conversation as they're having elsewhere is because it doesn't really get great ratings, because it's scary, it's

uncomfortable and people would love to just ignore the issues.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, just the fact that we have an opportunity to speak to the greatest city in the world every morning, just such a huge

audience and do what we think is important, that's a dream job.


AMANPOUR: So a serious take on America's ever-more circus-like election.

When we come back, as Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef, once known as Egypt's Jon Stewart, takes his craft stateside, his take on Trump, guns and

tickling giants -- after this.





AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

To an outside observer, the American election can be confusing, even comical, including to Bassem Youssef, the well-known Egyptian heart surgeon

turned satirist, who is exploring the intricacies of U.S. presidential politics now, attending Trump rallies and even gun shows for his latest


After the Arab Spring, no one was off limits for him. First President Mohammed Morsi and then the military (INAUDIBLE), President Sisi. They

both failed to find him funny and effectively ran him off the air and out of town. But they can't shut him up, as I discovered when he came to our



AMANPOUR: Bassem Youssef, welcome back to the program.

YOUSSEF: Hi, I'm on your set in London for the first time.

AMANPOUR: You are and you've just come from the United States.

YOUSSEF: Yes, jet lagged.

AMANPOUR: Where -- and you're jet lagged. But you probably got a little buzz over the U.S. election.


AMANPOUR: What are you doing?

You're doing some kind of new show?


AMANPOUR: On American politics?

YOUSSEF: Yes. It's by Fusion (ph), part of Univision, it's called "Democracy Handbook." Basically it is a look at American politics through

a Middle Eastern perspective, which is very interesting.

AMANPOUR: Well, how do you see it, given that you went from Tahrir Square to Morsi to the military regime right now, how do you see the U.S.?

YOUSSEF: Well, there are many aspects, for example, there was one time that I was covering the Trump rally.

AMANPOUR: There you go, the silent majority stands with Trump.

YOUSSEF: I was there and I felt swept away with the xenophobia and the demagogue. And hey, I felt quite a home.

AMANPOUR: So how does that make for comedy?

I mean, he's funny but what did you think about ban all Muslims from coming to the U.S.?

YOUSSEF: This is, of course, it's not scary that he said it. It's scary that people endorse it. I'm not scared of Trump. Trump is one guy. The

problem with Trump that he gave a voice to many voiceless, angry, hateful people. So like, hey, he's an idiot, I can be an idiot, too.

And the problem -- and I'll tell you one thing that about Trump that even bothers me even more, not about Trump. Again, Trump might be doing this

out of show, out of like kind of a stunt. Ted Cruz and Rubio do it out of conviction. They don't sound as stupid but they are equally dangerous even


AMANPOUR: And so when people hear you say that, how do you relate that to the dysfunction of your own politics in Egypt and in the rest of that


YOUSSEF: It is the same thing. It is a cultural fear, fear of the other; as some sort of imaginary conspiracy, everybody wants to get us; that like

we need to be stronger. We need to carpet bomb somebody. Everybody's out there to get us. It's the same thing.

AMANPOUR: We have pictures of you also as part of this new handbook that you're dealing with, of going to a gun shop.

YOUSSEF: Oh, yes.

AMANPOUR: Because guns, although they're a massive part of the culture and the dysfunction of the U.S. culture, they're hardly really in this


YOUSSEF: I really don't get it.

AMANPOUR: What did you go to do then?

Why are you wielding that shotgun?

YOUSSEF: Yes, I was going there because it I wanted actually to get into the gun culture mentality. I mean, you talk to them, it's like, oh, it's

for hunting and then you find automatic weapons. And Star Wars-age kind of weapons.

Seriously, how fast is that deer?

And the thing is you ask --

AMANPOUR: How fast is that deer?

YOUSSEF: Yes, yes, it is. And then you ask them, it's like, oh, you cannot take away our guns because guns are in our DNA.

And you call the Middle East violent?


YOUSSEF: It really doesn't make sense.

AMANPOUR: You find this stuff extraordinary and many people looking in at Egypt and elsewhere find that extraordinary as well. You are a heart

surgeon turned comedian, satirist; you're often called Egypt's Jon Stewart.




AMANPOUR: And you really did do something different. During the revolution of Tahrir Square, you had your show and millions of people were

watching and then it all started to go downhill. I guess they can't take a joke out there, either.

YOUSSEF: I know but like here's the thing. Here's the thing about not taking a joke or like about the Arab Spring going downhill.

It's been five years. Five years in the history of nations is nothing. It's nothing. I mean, if you took a snapshot of the American Revolution or

the French Revolution or whatever revolution out there, it is -- it's been the same thing. And this is something that I say all the time.

I say, guys, in Europe, the fortress of freedoms and everything, you are killing each other only 70 years ago because of military fascism. And 100

years before that, you were killing each other because of religious fascism. We're just doing the same -- like both at the same time, get it

over with. We're just faster. We're just like they're faster. And it's a process.

AMANPOUR: So do you regret it?


AMANPOUR: You don't regret having pushed those boundaries?


AMANPOUR: Do you think you went too far?


AMANPOUR: Did you go far enough?

YOUSSEF: I wish I would have gone farther. But like here's the thing. This is the -- one of the many questions I get asked.

They ask me, do you regret anything?

Would you do the same?

I would repeat every single one of them because now I have something to be proud of, that I have actually stood and said what I want. Because if I

was going down in any way, if I was going to be booted anyway, at least I would have said what I wanted.

So this is something that I'm going to leave to my daughter, to my children and this is something that I'm proud of to leave behind.

AMANPOUR: I just had an encounter with President Erdogan of Turkey just as he started complaining about the satirization that he was getting in

Germany, listen to what we said to each other.


AMANPOUR: Why do you care?

Why is it so important for you to make a big deal about this?

And doesn't it show that you have a very thin skin and that actually by making a big deal about this, people know about it?

Whereas people may not have known about it if you hadn't bothered with it at all?

RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, PRESIDENT OF TURKEY (through translator): Well, I must put it in very frank terms. We shouldn't confuse criticism with

insult and defamation. I am and my people are open to criticism. I am an open politician and I'm an open leader.


AMANPOUR: So that's what he says. And now Chancellor Merkel has given the go-ahead for this process, this legal case to take place in Germany under a

very, very old law that she says, you know, we have independence but this law is going to be struck down in a few years.

What do you make of that?

YOUSSEF: Well, here's the thing, yes, I understand that the point that was read, it was very sexual and it was very insulting. But you really need to

let it go. Same thing what happens with the cartoons. If you give it too much attention, it will get too much attention.

And I think people feel the insults relatively. Some people brush it off. Some people don't. It's cultural. It's ego. And I think like now

everybody's talking about it, as you said. Everybody is talking about this. It could have occupied the world news for a couple of days. Now

it's occupied the news for a couple of months.

In the age of open skies and Internet, you cannot shut people up. You cannot tell people to hold back. You cannot tell people how to criticize

or what's the level of criticism or what's the quality of criticism and what constitutes as an insult or as a criticism. It's unfortunate but it's

life and you have to deal with it.

AMANPOUR: On that note, Bassem Youssef, thanks very much.

YOUSSEF: Thank you very much.


AMANPOUR: Now Bassem isn't the only Arab Spring casualty here in London today. Over in Trafalgar Square, not too far from this studio, sits

Palmyra's Arch of Triumph.

Didn't ISIS destroy it?

Imagine an ancient world risen from the dead -- next.





AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world where the triumphal Arch of Palmyra is discovered presiding over Trafalgar Square. This arch stretches

from Syria to London as part of World Heritage Week. The original, of course, was destroyed by ISIS when it sacked the ancient city last year,

costing the world a dramatic piece of shared cultural heritage which had been built by the Roman Empire more than 2,000 years ago.

Now this replica has risen from the ashes, an act of defiance and memory, carved from Egyptian marble to exact specifications, made with 3D

photographs of the original and about two-thirds its size.

After a three-day stay here in London, this arch will make a world tour before finally returning, hopefully to settle near where the original once

stood in Palmyra.

And that's it for our program tonight. Remember you can always listen to our podcast, see us online at, where you may be interested in

our Kareem Abdul-Jabbar online Web extra.

What does he make of Steph Curry's amazing form and Kobe Bryant's legacy at the Lakers?

See more, as I said, online and in our CNN sports shows. And of course you can always follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for watching and

goodbye from London.