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America's Love Affair with Guns; Orlando Shooter Born in U.S.; A Community Mourns; Imagine a World. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired June 13, 2016 - 14:00   ET




CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: as America and the world react to the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, I speak exclusively

to Afghanistan's president, Ashraf Ghani, who tells me he is horrified at the Afghan connection.


ASHRAF GHANI, PRESIDENT OF AFGHANISTAN: Our reaction is one of total shock and revulsion.


AMANPOUR (voice-over): Also ahead, we're joined by an Afghan American gay rights activist, who calls this attack "a declaration of war" against the

LGBT community.

And later, America's love affair with guns: how to limit the dangers of this passion with the congresswoman who represents the neighborhood of the

Pulse nightclub.


REP. CORRINE BROWN (D), FLA.: But we've got to -- not just do a moment of silent prayer and that's it. That is just not acceptable.



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

These are the faces of the fallen, 49 lives brutally cut short at a gay nightclub in Orlando. It is the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

And this chilling Snapchat video captured the moment the killer started firing.

The woman recording those shots, Amanda Alvear, tragically, was killed.

This is the gunman, Omar Mateen, the 29-year-old American, seemingly inspired by a dangerous mix of extremism and homophobia with a highly

combustible ingredient added in and that is easy access to weapons.

He bought a handgun and an assault rifle just this week. We know Mateen pledged allegiance to ISIS in a call to 9-1-1 and even though ISIS hasn't

claimed responsibility, they are capitalizing on the shooting, praising Mateen as one of their soldiers, as President Obama discussed from the Oval



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It does appear that, at the last minute, he announced allegiance to ISIL. But there's no evidence so

far that he was, in fact, directed.

As far as we can tell right now, this is certainly an example of the kind of homegrown extremism that all of us have been so concerned about for a

very long time.


AMANPOUR: The killer's parents are from Afghanistan and they live in the United States. The father, Seddique Mateen, hosts a television show that's

aimed at the Afghan diaspora. And he once even interviewed the Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, who joined me earlier, exclusively from Kabul, to

express his horror at what's happened and at the role of an Afghan American.


AMANPOUR: Mr. President, thank you for joining us today.

GHANI: It's a pleasure to be with you. During an hour that America grieves, we grieve with it and the entire world.

AMANPOUR: Shockingly, it is the first time an Afghan -- yes, he was born in the United States but his heritage is Afghan -- has been involved in one

of these terror attacks, hate crimes of this nature. And I want to know what you feel about that.

And were you ever warned by the FBI?

Did the FBI have any contact with Afghan intelligence about this particular person?

GHANI: Our reaction is one of total shock and revulsion. The United States is our closest ally, a friend in need, a friend indeed. We pay

tribute to those Americans, men and women, both in uniform and out, who've paid the ultimate sacrifice to help us carve a future for ourselves.

The individual concerned was raised in the United States, but, of course, of Afghan parents. But this should be clear that the Afghan public

condemns this in categorical terms. And we have no sympathies because we have been subject to 1,708 terrorist attacks this year alone.

And we have lost over 5,000 of our people, children, men, women, elderly, across all parts of Afghanistan and across --


GHANI: -- all strata. There was no contact with us from the FBI because the internal procedures, from what we have heard from the media, did not

rank the individual. And his linkages with Afghanistan, from what I understand, have been extraordinarily tenuous and weak.

AMANPOUR: So does that mean the Afghan authorities really didn't know who this individual was, he wasn't on anybody's radar?

GHANI: To the extent that I know because, at the operative levels, some contacts, because we have close coordination, no.

AMANPOUR: Can I ask you about his father, a man by the name of Seddique Mateen, who, as you may have read, has a sort of an occasional, slightly

weird television program, and who claims to have interviewed you at some point in the last several years.

Do you have any recollection of this?

GHANI: I did not have the recollection but my colleagues have briefed me that there was an interview in the name of a group in 2009, when I was a

candidate for the presidency.

I gave hundreds, if not hundreds of interviews. The text of the interview is available as general questions and there was -- I have not had -- I did

not know the gentleman prior to that, have not had any contact since.

And there was no sign at that time that he had weird ideas. Subsequently, I've been informed that he's declared himself to be the head of a

government in exile or some entity like that.

AMANPOUR: I want you to respond, Mr. President, to Donald Trump, who has tweeted, "We shouldn't be allowing Muslims into our country, the United


What is your reaction to that?

GHANI: An individual cannot represent a culture or a civilization. The greatest number of casualties of terrorism or in Muslim majority countries,

Islam cannot be reduced to pronouncements.

We were heads of government and state, however in Muslim majority countries have a duty to struggle against this aberration that is hijacking the name

of a great civilization and culture and is trying to reduce it.

AMANPOUR: What's your reaction to the President of the United States empowering U.S. troops to go more on the offensive against the Taliban

right now?

GHANI: I welcome this. I welcome this decision. I'm very pleased by it because we tried peace. There was a very deliberate process involving

Pakistan, China, the United States and Afghanistan, called the quadrilateral process.

It put a very clear road map with benchmarks and use of force was agreed by within this process, that should Taliban groups choose not to reconcile but

continue with their terror and violence, then there will be use of force.

And I very much welcome the decision of President Obama and the support that he's providing to our forces.

AMANPOUR: Mr. President, that's for the Taliban.

Can you just indicate to me what your nation believes to be the strength of ISIS in Afghanistan?

GHANI: First issues that we have good news on ISIS, what we call daish. In Eastern Afghanistan, we have managed to push them back and have

inflicted very serious damage on them.

However, the phenomenon is not eliminated because it's an interconnected phenomenon. Our fear is that the more they are weakened in Syria, in Iraq,

the more likely they'll be seeking other outlets. And because of it we remain very vigilant and focused on them.

AMANPOUR: President Ghani, thank you very much indeed for joining me today.

GHANI: Thank you for having me. And, once again, my deepest sympathies to the American public, to the families who have lost loved ones, to the

community in Florida, to the United States government and to President Obama.

AMANPOUR: I appreciate it. Thank you very much, Mr. President.


AMANPOUR: So heartfelt comments from Kabul. And when we come back, as America mourns and tries to stay united, we --


AMANPOUR: -- hear from an Afghan American gay rights activist.

Plus: the congresswoman for the neighborhood that includes the Pulse nightclub, she says enough is finally enough.




AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

We've heard the Orlando killer's wife describe Omar Mateen as bipolar. His co-worker called him "an angry, violent bigot." And the killer's Afghan

parents say this has nothing to do with religion, that their son had recently expressed outrage after seeing a same-sex couple kissing in

downtown Miami.

Nemat Sadat is that rare thing, an Afghan American gay rights activist, and he joins me now from California.


AMANPOUR: Nemat, welcome to the program. And I say rare thing because you were the first of your community to come out in Afghanistan.

NEMAT SADAT, GAY RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Absolutely. I was a professor at the American University of Afghanistan, teaching political science.

And I was forced out of the country because I was deemed a national security threat since, in Afghanistan, just like many countries across the

Muslim world, being gay is a crime that is punishable by death.


AMANPOUR: So you had to flee for your life.

SADAT: I have been campaigning for LGBTI rights for many years now. And I'm one of the few rare voices from the Muslim world. And I've received

many threats for my life because I'm trying to campaign for LGBTI rights and gay marriage in the most hostile region in our planet.

AMANPOUR: But Nemat, so you fled Afghanistan for your life because you're gay. And now you're in America and you see this happen against the gay

community in Florida.

Are you sort of a double minority?

Are you doubly at threat?

SADAT: Absolutely. I'm a minority within a minority. I feel like I'm reliving 9/11 again because at that time I suffered as an American and

wondered what I should be as an Afghan, as a Muslim. But now I don't identify -- I consider myself as an ex-Muslim, LGBTI rights activist.

And now I have to see my multiple identities have come home. And I really resent the fact that here an Afghan American or a person from my national

heritage has committed another atrocity that has claimed a world record, the deadliest mass shooting in our country, the United States.

And I'm mourning right now LGBTI victims. But this really shows how bad it is for the tens of millions of LGBTI people across the Muslim world, who

are living in sharia law. In 10 countries they are killed and the rest, they're not killed, they're incarcerated, they're fined, they're left to

languish in prison.

They're victims of honor killings. They're victims of mob squads, militants and even state-sanctioned terror. So there is no outlet. And we

must, as an LGBTI community, reach out to LGBT people from Afghan and Muslim descent.

And also reach out because they need us and their support.

AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask you, because you heard what the father said. He claims that it wasn't religious. His son wasn't religious. He was just

homophobic and horrified. And the father also said that --


AMANPOUR: -- homosexuality may not be in the Quran but it didn't mean that individuals should take out their anger or whatever it is against other

people in this way. But surely he sort of grew up in that sort of tradition of hating and feeling that he should be violent.

SADAT: Yes, I grew up in Afghan society here in the United States and the majority of them have rejected me, including a lot of my family and

relatives and even educated elites here in this country.

Don't even tell me what it's like for people in Afghanistan. That country, a Pew Research study in 2013 showed that 99 percent of the country favors

sharia law.

So under sharia law, homosexuals should be exterminated. So the father of Omar Mateen is really not an outlier. He is the mainstream. He is the

majority of the sentiment that people have. And it's because that's the way they've been indoctrinated.

They've been indoctrinated to hate LGBT people and other persecuted minorities. This is why I'm calling on President Obama and other world

leaders to please help. Put pressure on President Ashraf Ghani's regime and other leaders in the Muslim world to please stop this hate and


Let LGBT people be free and equal. And let them honor love because that's the tradition of LGBT Pride Month.

If we're going to honor the month of Ramadan, we also have to honor the rights of the most persecuted people, who are being extinguished with


Nemat Sadat, a reality check from you there. Afghan American gay rights activist, thank you very much indeed for coming on our program tonight.


AMANPOUR: And once again, we ask, why is this allowed to happen?

It is a question that President Obama tried to answer in a televised town hall less than two weeks ago.


OBAMA: I just came from a meeting today in the Situation Room in which I've got people who we know have been on ISIL websites living here in the

United States, U.S. citizens, and we're allowed to put them on the no-fly list when it comes to airlines.

But because of the National Rifle Association, I cannot prohibit those people from buying a gun.


AMANPOUR: It was almost a chronicle of death foretold about what happened in Florida. And that, again, shines a harsh spotlight onto a uniquely

American phenomenon.

America leads the world in the number of guns per capita with 310 million, which is about as many guns as Americans, man, woman and child. And those

guns are used.

The crowd-sourced website gunviolencearchive estimates there have been more than 23,000 gun shootings and almost 6,000 deaths so far this year and

there are still six months left in this year.

Can, will America's politicians ever get a handle on this crisis?

Perhaps the most furious politician of all right now is Congresswoman Corrine Brown. She represents the area of Orlando where the shooting took



AMANPOUR: Congresswoman, welcome to the program. And I know this is your district, the one you represent in Congress. Tell me what the mood is 24

hours later.

BROWN: Let me just say one thing. I've represented this area for over 24 years. Orlando is a metropolitan, diverse community. But this is a very

sad state of affairs for the community.

I went to a prayer vigil last night, you know, but Orlando is a family oriented community. And the community is coming together. This is a

tragic -- I am leaving this afternoon, going to Washington, where we're going to have a one-minute prayer, silent prayer.

But what else are we going to do?

There is no other country until the world that have 50 people slaughtered by one person. We have to do more than have a moment of silent prayer in

the United States Congress.

AMANPOUR: Congresswoman, you express an anger and a frustration that is definitely matched overseas. People just cannot believe that they are

watching this again. And this, of course, the worst one in American history.

Do you actually believe that anything will change this time?

BROWN: Listen, what happens when failure is not an option?

We must change this. This sends such a horrible message, not just in this community, in this country, but around the world. I mean, it is clearly --

we've got to change it.

What happens when failure is not an option?

You get it done. And we in Congress --


BROWN: -- must get it done.

AMANPOUR: I would like to play you something the president said just a few moments ago regarding the debate as to whether this was an act of terrorism

or is it a gun crime or a hate crime. Just listen to what he said and then we'll talk about it.


OBAMA: The suggestion is either we think about something as terrorism and we ignore the problems with easy access to firearms or it's all about

firearms and we ignore the role, the very real role, that organizations like ISIL had in generating extremist views inside this country.

It's not an either/or; it's a both/and.


AMANPOUR: So the president has seen now 15 of these tragedies on his watch.

Do you believe, as he seems to be saying, that guns and a lack of gun control is terrorism?

BROWN: Absolutely and I would say all of the above. And also, the rhetoric that comes from the leadership clearly is all of the things that

the president mentioned and some other things in addition.

But the main thing is, how can one person fire off that many rounds?

It is unacceptable. Law enforcement doesn't think they should be able to do it and certainly we've got to get the will to change the drumbeat in

this country.

This has nothing to do with you have a right to protect your family or have a gun. This is ludicrous. And it just cannot go on.

AMANPOUR: You said that you have to turn grief into action. You are visibly angry and presumably grief-stricken as well.

Really, what can be done?

Obviously there are many things that can be done and the majority of the American people believe in sensible gun control.

But the leadership in Congress doesn't and the NRA has a death grip on them.

How can you prise that apart?

BROWN: Well, you know, it's step by step. One of my colleagues sent me an e-mail, saying this is another example of us not doing anything about

mental health. Clearly we need to fund mental health programs because the person had to be sick to do this.

AMANPOUR: Well, there's mental health then there's gun control.


Where are you focusing?

BROWN: I'm going to focus on all of the above. Mental health, gun control, the agencies working together -- because this person clearly have

come before the FBI, have been interviewed twice.

Why was he able to get a gun in 12 days?

I mean, it's just -- we've got to tighten up the loopholes.

Clearly, if you're on the watch list, why are you able to get a gun?

It is just unacceptable. The guns, it's partly the guns, it's partly mental health. It's a multiplicity of things. But we've got to just not

just do a moment of silent prayer and that's it. That is just not acceptable. We've got to do more.

AMANPOUR: I guess the only other thing to keep asking is, how do you realistically expect to name and shame, if you like?

Because we had similar outrage and true heartbreak when it was 20 children and teachers at Sandy Hook School. And now you have 50 members of the gay

community in your own district.

What more does it take?

How many more hundreds of bodies and thousands of bodies have to pile up in the United States?

BROWN: Let me just tell you, it takes 218 in the House. And the people need to be clear when they are sending representatives to the United States


They need to ask them the question, where do you stand on these issues?

It's not whether or not you're going to buy a ticket to my barbecue.

How do you stand on this issue?

We've got to make it a campaign issue. We have elections coming up. People got to get involved.

AMANPOUR: Well, Representative Corrine Brown, I wish you good luck as you take that message to Congress this afternoon.

BROWN: Thank you so very much.


AMANPOUR: And the congresswoman's neighborhood in Orlando is rallying around to remain united and to be tolerant. And when we come back, we'll

see which community can be prevented from actually helping their fellow man and woman.





AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, the outrage in Orlando has provoked a huge reaction around the world, with many messages of support.

And the front page of the local paper, the "Orlando Sentinel," declares, "Our community will heal."

But imagine a world where vital blood donations to save the lives of gay men are barred to gay men. Donors are queueing up around the block to give

blood in Orlando, with many, including the local Muslim community, rallying around to give blood during this emergency, this Ramadan donation going

viral on social media.

Until last year, U.S. authorities had prevented gay men from donating blood to anyone, a ban dating back to the '80s when the AIDS crisis burst on to

center stage. That ban was lifted in December, except for any men who have had gay sex in the last year. They still cannot be blood donors.

A sizable minority is thus barred from helping and many of them believe that changing that regulation would be one positive result, at least, of

this terrible tragedy.

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

Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.