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On Strike in Egypt; Protests in Iran; Obama's Budget

Aired February 14, 2011 - 16:00:00   ET


MAX FOSTER, HOST: The police return to the streets in Egypt, not to keep the peace, but to protest their pay.

And in Tunisia, thousands are escaping their revolution by fleeing to Italy.

Plus, President Obama's plan to cut the U.S. deficit by a trillion dollars.

Has he done his homework?

And we'll catch up with the stars of "The Baxters" as we take a trip down the red carpet.

These stories and more tonight as we connect the world.

First, though, after the revolution gave them a voice, many Egyptians are now using it to demand a better life. And the labor unrest just keeps growing.

From police and ambulance workers to bakery employees, Egyptians across the country are going on strike over wages and working conditions. The military generals now running Egypt are urging people to get back to work and help rebuild the economy. They're promising a new constitution and democratic elections, but say they can't lift the widely hated emergency law until the unrest subsides.

Mourners in Cairo gathered on Monday around a memorial at Tahrir Square honoring those killed in the uprising. Most demonstrators, though, have been dispersed by the military.

One activist in Egypt says it's hard to tell exactly how many people are on strike right now, saying the better question may be who isn't.

Here's Fred Pleitgen.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hundreds of cops cheer as this officer tears the epaulet off his uniform at a police demonstration at Egypt's interior ministry. "We want better wages," this policeman shouts. "And we have colleagues who have been fired who need to come back to work."

A protest by members of what's, arguably, Egypt's most unpopular profession, but one that's badly needed these days. Anti-government demonstrators and police fought raging battles in Cairo and other Egyptian cities more than two weeks ago. Then, as the army rolled in, Egyptian police, notorious for allegations of corruption, random arrests and brutality, disappeared. In the aftermath, some police stations were looted and set ablaze.

Now Mustafa Ahmed (ph) and some others are volunteering to renovate this one in Cairo, in a bid to restore law enforcement authority. "This is our country," he says, "and we worry about it. We fight the destruction that comes its way. I can sleep much better knowing the police are around."

(on camera): Refurbishing a building is one thing. But whether you liked the police before or not, law enforcement authorities are necessary. That's why the officers have set up makeshift offices here outside the building. And as you can see, they are in high demand.

(voice-over): Mustafa Magi (ph) is filing a verbal abuse complaint against his landlord. He says the once heavy-handed cops seem to be friendlier these days. "Before, we had to wait a long time for someone to listen to us," he says. "They didn't seem concerned. Now things have completely changed."

But distrust remains. Only traffic police are back on the streets. Regular cops still don't walk beats in Cairo or other cities, a spokesman says, out of fear of being harassed. Citizens have organized neighborhood watches to protect their belongings and CNN obtained this amateur video of citizens allegedly arresting inmates after a jail break and handing them over to the army, since the police where nowhere to be seen.

Meanwhile, many cops continue their protests, demanding more money and better working conditions, as Egypt struggles to establish an institution many hate, but everyone needs.


PLEITGEN: And, Max, of course the police are not the only ones staging what has really become sort of smaller and more demos that are going on right now. In Cairo, you have hospital workers, for instance, and, of course, still some of the people who were camped out on Tahrir Square who are demanding that the military hand over power to some sort of civilian leadership immediately.

At the same time, the military council that's currently in charge of the country here is clearly losing its patience with these demonstrators. They issued a statement today calling on people to go back to work, calling the cops (ph) detrimental to the country, especially to the country's economy. And also, crews that we had on the ground today saw the military quite heavy-handedly break up several smaller demonstrations -- Max.

FOSTER: OK, thank you very much, Fred.

Well, Iran was one of the first countries to praise Egypt's revolutionaries. But now, it's moving quickly to shut down any anti- government revolutionaries of its own.

Police fired teargas and paint balls to break up protests in Tehran today. Demonstrations like these are banned and it's hard to report on them, as foreign media in Iran weren't allowed to cover the unrest.

Just getting reporters into Iran is difficult enough because government regime sharply restricts journalists' visas.

But our Reza Sayah has pieced together some extraordinary details of Monday's demonstrations from Islamabad.


REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dramatic developments in Tehran today. Many wondered if Iran's opposition movement was dead, the so-called green movement that burst onto the scene in 2009 after the presidential elections. We hadn't heard much from them for the president year because of a brutal government crackdown. But on Monday, they made a comeback.

According to witness accounts, at one point the crowds grew into the tens of thousands. Video clips of Monday's protests have been posted on YouTube. It was often the cat and mouse game that we saw more than a year ago. Security foice -- forces choosing protesters away. Video clips showed protesters chanting anti-government slogans like "Death to the dictator!" That chant we heard before.

But we heard a new one on Monday that was a clear sign that this protest was sparked by the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.

Take a listen.


SAYAH: The protesters there are essentially chanting the former leaders of Egypt and Tunisia are gone, now it's time for Iran's supreme leader to be gone.

Based on witness accounts, these protests were largely peaceful, but it did get ugly at times. This was a man who tried to protect a poster of Iran's supreme leader. He was beaten by a group of men who, a short time later, burned that poster of Ayatollah Khameini.

Witnesses tell us that at least two dozen people were detained in Monday's protests. Remember, this was a rally that was called for by Iran's opposition movement, its two leaders, in support of the uprisings in Egypt. The government rejected their request. They warned people not to come out.

Clearly, this opposition movement in Iran defied those warnings and clearly they were energized by the uprising in Egypt.

Where this movement goes from here, it's not clear. The two leaders are under tremendous pressure. It doesn't have much of an organization or much of a structure. But clearly they made a statement on Monday that they still have a heartbeat, they still have numbers and a lot of grievances against the government.


FOSTER: Well, anti-government protesters also took to the streets in Yemen, clashing with police and supporters of the president there. Some demonstrators threw rocks. Other brandished daggers and knives.

Mohammed Jamjoom joins us now from the capital, Sanaa -- Mohammed, what did you see?

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Max, what started out earlier in the day as a peaceful protest, two rival groups of protesters, pro-government and anti-government, quickly turned quite violent. When we arrived on the scene at Sanaa University this morning, we saw rocks being hurled, we saw pro-government demonstrators clashing with anti-government demonstrators; pro-government demonstrators with knives and -- and -- and daggers and machetes in their hands; anti-government demonstrators with sticks.

There were scuffles. Then police came out. The military came out and tried to disperse the crowd. It was quite tense. They pushed the journalists away.

What's interesting about the protests that have been happening in the last few days, they have not been organized by opposition parties, as the demonstrations in the past few weeks had been. You had seen thousands of people in the last few weeks come out into the streets. These are being organized by the opposition here, trying to back the president into a corner, trying to make him offer concessions.

Last week, the president did so. Last week, President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen said he would not run for reelection in 2013, said he would not seek to install his son as his successor, said he would not seek to amend the constitution.

Nonetheless, even with those concessions being offered, even with the opposition saying now they will enter into dialogue with the president, the past four days, since the resignation of Hosni Mubarak, more and more people have took to the streets, rights activists, students, a lot of the youth here in Yemen. They've been chanting anti-government slogans. Yesterday, they marched toward the presidential palace before getting into clashes with police here.

And the movement seems to be gaining momentum. The government is quite concerned. More and more security forces out in the streets. They don't want to see these -- these protests turn violent. In the last three days, they have. There have been more clashes between pro-government and anti-government demonstrators and the -- and it's becoming much more tense here in Sanaa -- Max.

FOSTER: There was a sense, Mohammed, in Egypt that perhaps foreign media were given too much freedom to -- to report there.

Is the same -- are there lots of restrictions on you reporting in Yemen?

Are we getting a true picture?

JAMJOOM: Well, yesterday we encountered difficulties and at one point, we had our footage seized. It was returned to us today. Because the situation has been getting more tense, because there's been more of a security presence, there has been more of a crackdown on the journalists here. We've heard reports today that there were journalists that were injured by some of the gangs that were out in the streets.

It's been quite chaotic the last couple of days. Today, as I said, the scene turned violent very quickly. The anti-government demonstrators that were out there today were telling us they felt they were being attacked. They felt that there were thugs that were out on the street that were being paid by the government to come in and attack them. Some of them were saying that they suspected that some of these pro-government demonstrators were actually security forces that were disguised as civilians.

Nonetheless, every pro-government demonstrator we spoke with said they were there of their own volition, that they felt that the anti-government demonstrators were actually causing quite a problem for the security situation here in Yemen and that they wanted them to stop their demands on the president here.

Nonetheless, it's becoming more volatile. People are wondering now if this movement here is gaining more momentum and if the events in Tunisia and Egypt is causing more people here to come out into the streets to express their anger toward the regime here -- Max.

FOSTER: All right, Jamjoom, thank you very much, indeed.

Well, I got some perspective on the unrest sweeping the region from Harvard Professor Niall Ferguson.

He's author of the book, "The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World."

And I started by asking him whether the media have hyped up the domino effect of the Egyptian revolution.


NIALL FERGUSON, AUTHOR, "THE ASCENT OF MONEY," "NEWSWEEK" COLUMNIST: Revolutions do have a tendency to cross borders. Think of the French Revolution, which was a contagion that swept from Paris right across the entirety of -- of Europe. Or the Russian Revolution, which became very nearly a world revolution.

So it wouldn't be surprising at all to find this spreading. And it, of course, didn't begin in Egypt. It began in Tunisia. It is going on in a lesser form in Yemen, in Algeria, in -- in Bahrain. And I think we should regard this as a very serious historical phenomenon.

I think the fact of the matter is that the entire region is characterized by a relatively youthful population, pretty high unemployment, high food prices, which has been one of the triggers for all of this. And that is really the revolutionary recipe, because it's young men who tend to take to the streets. You won't find this happening in, I don't know, Japan or Italy, where huge proportions of the population are over 65.

It's a young man's activity. And I think the entire region is unquestionably in a revolutionary state. Plus you have the fading of military regimes that have been knocking around in one form or another since the end of colonial rule. And these -- you know, these regimes have passed their sell by date.

So what we're going to see, I have absolutely no doubt, in the weeks and months ahead, is more crowds in the streets and more uncertainty about the political future in countries that for so long have been politically stagnant.

FOSTER: I know it's your view that foreign powers, Washington in particular, have been caught off guard by this because they didn't have the right intelligence and they didn't have the right planning.

Is that because the intelligence was amongst a group that they weren't in touch with, the young men that you're talking about?

FERGUSON: Well, it's been a failure of intelligence but it's also been a failure of strategy. I find it astonishing that at no point does anyone seem to have contemplated the scenario of a revolutionary regime change in Egypt.

Now, the Israelis have been thinking and talking about this kind of thing because, after all, they have a lot of skin in the game and it really matters a lot of things go wrong in their neighboring -- in neighboring countries.

But the fact that the National Security Council was not thinking about these things, the national security adviser didn't bring it to the president's attention as a possible scenario...

FOSTER: How do you know that they weren't thinking about it?

FERGUSON: Because they admitted it last week in an extraordinarily candid admission. Somebody in the administration said that we've only thought about the Middle East in terms of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and, of course, in terms of Iranian nuclear proliferation. We didn't think about this at all, not once.

So that is a massive failure of strategy. Even if the intelligence was coming in from down below, I think it might well have got shelved, because it just wasn't on the priority list of what the president should be thinking about.

FOSTER: So it matters for U.S. foreign policy because it wasn't up to date, as it were. It wasn't keeping up.

But does that have a big impact on the region and the rest of the world?

FERGUSON: Well, I think it has a -- a huge impact. If the world's number one superpower has not got a strategy for the greater Middle Eastern region beyond giving nice speeches saying this president is not George W. Bush, then we are in big trouble, because what happens in these sorts of revolutionary waves is very hard to predict.

But historically, it's more likely to produce conflict, both within countries and between countries, than to produce peace and harmony.

FOSTER: And can't it turn out in a positive way, as it were, like that?

Why the negativity around what may come out of it?

FERGUSON: Well, the Muslim Brotherhood is being underestimated in the United States. One sees that in much of the commentary. And there's a sort of wishful man thinking going on here, well, they won't be as bad as their Iranian predecessors. It's not going to be 1979.

Well, why not?

Why not, actually?

You look at the program of the Muslim Brotherhood, it is quite explicitly a program to impose Sharia law and impose and enforce Sharia law throughout Egypt. And more importantly, not just Egypt, the whole idea is to restore the Caliphate. That's their program, to create an Islamist superpower in the region.

Now, anybody who says it's going to be fine, the Muslim Brotherhood are moderates, they're really secular at heart, I think, is living in a complete fantasy world. They are going to play this carefully, the way Hezbollah in Lebanon have played it. Their aim is very clear -- they want to be part of any new government that's elected later this year. They don't expect to be front and center and they will soft peddle it, for the obvious reason that the best thing to do right now is to lull the Obama administration into a false sense of security.

But we should never doubt that their ambition is to take over not only in Egypt, but throughout the region. And that poses a fundamental threat to the stability not just of the Middle East, but of the world as a whole.


FOSTER: Well, for many, this Arab world revolt we're seeing started with Tunisia. Continued arrests in that country is apparently forcing many to flee right now.

Up next, the humanitarian impact of an uprising and why Italy is now under pressure.

But step aside, Japan, China's economy is roaring.

And rare access to two men behind bars in Pakistan -- the horrific crime that they're accused of, coming up right here on CONNECT THE WORLD.


FOSTER: Strategic spending and selective saving -- the U.S. president, Barack Obama, has unveiled his budget blueprint for 2012, a $3.7 trillion proposal he says is designed for Americans to live within their means, without sacrificing their future.

For more on how he plans to dig the economy out of its debt crisis, keep watching. We'll tell you where he's taking a sharp knife to spending a little later in the show.

I'm Max Foster in London.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD.

Here's a look at the other stories we're following this hour.

And if the U.S. doesn't have enough to worry about, hot on its heels to become the world's largest economy is now China.

As our Kyung Lah explains, it's manufacturing sector is growing at blistering speed.


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Japan is now the world's third largest economy. China is number two, behind the United States.

Figures released by Japan's economy are nominal GDP figures for 2010. And here's a look at the numbers.

Japan's economy valued for the year 2010, $5.47 trillion U.S. China, $5.87 trillion U.S.

China's economy grew approximately 10 percent in 2010. The manufacturing sector simply expanding and expanding domestic industry and infrastructure also continuing to expand.

Compare that with Japan. The economy did grow here, 3.9 percent. But this country has been stuck in two decades of economic stagnation and deflation. It has lacked for a decisive economic policy because it's had so many leaders in the last recent years. This country has seen six prime ministers in just five years.

It is also looking to a demographic tsunami in the years ahead. Japan has the world's fastest aging population, with one of the world's lowest birth rates.

Now, economists do say comparing these GDPs is an important economic snapshot, because it tells you about the power, the economic power of various countries. But it doesn't tell the entire story.

At the current pace that China is growing, Japan's government estimates that China will become the world's number one economy, taking that title from the United States in as soon as 15 years.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Tokyo.


FOSTER: Well, the Taliban are claiming responsibility for a deadly attack on with Western style shopping center in Kabul. Authorities say a suicide bomber blew himself up after guards stopped him at the mall entrance. Two people were killed. The mall is attached to a four star hotel that's popular with foreign visitors and wealthy Afghans.

Palestinians in the West Bank are seeing some abrupt changes in their government. Prime Minister Salam Fayyad cabinet has resigned.

Kevin Flower has the details.


KEVIN FLOWER, CNN JERUSALEM BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): In yet another indication that Middle Eastern governments are feeling increased public pressure to enact political reform, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accepted the resignation of all his government ministers Monday and asked his prime minister to create a new government to ready its people for an independent state.

The move follows a surprise weekend announcement that long delayed presidential and legislative elections would be scheduled for no later than September.

Faced with the repeated failure of peace negotiations with Israel and rapidly diminishing public confidence, the Palestinian Authority is hoping these moves will help stave off the sort of public protests that brought down the regime of Hosni Mubarak.

But absent political reconciliation between Abbas' Fatah Party and the ruling Islamist government of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, most analysts here believe the impact of the measures will be limited, at best.

Kevin Flower, CNN, Jerusalem.


FOSTER: Prince Harry had better start working on his speech. His brother, Prince William, has picked him to be the best man when he marries Kate Middleton in April. The bride has asked her sister, Philippa, to be maid of honor.

Seven-year-old Lady Louise Windsor and also Prince Edward will be one of four bridesmaids.

You are watching CONNECT THE WORLD.

Up next, America's tough tradeoffs for its 2012 budget. We take a look at the President Obama's downpayment on future cuts to the U.S. budget deficit and why Republicans say it doesn't go far enough.

And look who's walking -- the stars turn out in style for the Brit Awards in London. We'll have the winners and more as Becky hits the red carpet.


FOSTER: Well, take a look at the this huge number -- a whole load of zeroes there lined up. This is how much President Obama aims to slash from the U.S. deficit over the next 10 years -- $1.1 trillion.

How will he do it?

Well, it's all laid out in his budget plan for 2012.

And our Maggie Lake that's a look at how Obama is wielding the scalpel.


MAGGIE LAKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Barack Obama's proposed 2012 budget is the opening move in what is expected to be a long and bitter battle over how to fix U.S. finances.

The $3.7 trillion budget aims to cut $1 trillion over the next 10 years. If successful, the deficit, which is now over 10 percent of GDP, would shrink to just over 3 percent.

Speaking at a school in Baltimore, Obama said it was essential the country once again learn to live within its means.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Because of our budget, this share of spending will be at its lowest level since Dwight Eisenhower was president. That level of spending is lower than it was under the last three administrations and it will be lower than it was under Ronald Reagan.


LAKE: The bulk of the savings would come from a spending freeze and cuts in domestic spending.

On the chopping block, heating assistance to the poor, tuition assistance, government salaries and defense programs.

But it's not all red ink. Repeating a theme the president laid out in his State of the Union, deep cuts in some areas are offset by new spending in sectors like education and green technology, a decision that has outraged the Republican opposition.

Other critics are upset the proposed budget does not address entitlements. Spending on pensions and health care for the elderly accounts for more than 40 percent of the budget and costs are skyrocketing.

President Obama himself acknowledged this is just the first step.


OBAMA: I'm also looking forward to working with members of both parties to take steps beyond this budget freeze, because cutting annual domestic spending won't be enough to meet our long-term fiscal challenges. As the bipartisan fiscal commission concluded, the only way to truly tackle our deficit is to cut excessive spending whenever we find it, in domestic spending, defense spending, health care spending and spending through tax breaks and loopholes.

So what we've done here is make a downpayment.


LAKE: The president may be urging bipartisan cooperation, but it looks as though he has a fight on his hands. Congress still has not approved his 2011 budget and Republicans are vowing to make the deficit a central issue in the 2012 presidential election.

Maggie Lake, CNN, New York.


FOSTER: The U.S. is one of a number of Western countries struggling with a massive deficit. When you look at the deficit as a percentage of GDP, the U.S. stands at 10.5 percent in 2010. That's according to the OECD data. Compare that, though, to the U.K., with 9.6 percent, and Ireland at more than 32 percent.

We -- we've just spent billions to bail out the country's banking system.

Other notable economies include Japan, 7.7 percent; China, 1.9 percent -- minuscule compared to the others here.

So they got themselves into a mess.

But how do they get out of it?

We're looking at austerity versus stimulus now, comparing the U.S. budget plans with other European countries.

With me now is Nariman Behravesh.

He's chief economist at IHS Global Insight.

He's in Massachusetts.

Thank you so much for joining us.

Just put this one point...


FOSTER: -- or sort of more than $1 trillion figure in context for us, because it is over 10 years. The U.S. is a huge economy.

Is that a large amount of cutting?

BEHRAVESH: Oh, it -- it's quite large in one sense. But it's not large enough, unfortunately.

I mean there's -- there's a lot more that has to be done. Remember that they're cutting, essentially, only about 10 percent of the U.S. budget. As you were saying earlier, defense is off the table. The Social Security and Medicare are off the table. Interest on the debt is off the table.

So what they're talking about is 10 percent. This is tiny. They've got their work cut out for them. They've got huge challenges ahead.

Yes, it's a start, but it's a tiny start.

FOSTER: And is -- it's marking the start of a long battle, isn't it, with Congressional Republicans, who are going to fight this?

So it's not even going to be that big at the end, anyway.

BEHRAVESH: That's correct. I mean they -- the Republicans want to cut certain things. Democrats other things. They're going to have a big fight on their hands. We'll see what comes out at -- at the other end of this. But it's not going to be easy and there's going to be a lot of the toing and froing and a lot of heat and not a lot of light in the next few months.

FOSTER: The Europeans, for example, are a lot further ahead on this, who have suggested this already in their cost cutting. They're very much looking toward cost cutting rather than more stimulus in dealing with this problem.

Is America finally coming around to that way of thinking or is it still looking at stimulating the economy out of this big recession?

BEHRAVESH: I think the discussion has now shifted away from stimulus. I think they -- while there's still a few economists out there saying we should get more stimulus, more and more economists are saying we don't really need it, the U.S. economy is in pretty good shape.

So it is beginning to -- the discussion is beginning to shift toward what do we do about these huge budget deficits and this growing public debt. And so from that perspective, it -- the whole discussion has shifted.

FOSTER: OK. And what do Americans make of the European cost cutting drive?

Because it's pretty dramatic compared with American standards, isn't it?

BEHRAVESH: It is dramatic, but to be honest with you, the typical American hasn't been paying much attention to European austerity measures. And they don't know that much about it. They are much more focused on their own economy. That's the nature of the beast. So there's not a lot of attention being paid to this.

FOSTER: And in terms of politics, this is where it really gets tough, isn't it, when you've got such a delicate balance in Washington?

BEHRAVESH: Indeed. And I think what we're going to probably have is some kind of gridlock over the next couple of years. And hopefully the -- the sort of the logjam will get broken by the next set of elections. But between now and 2000 -- the end of 2012, it's going to be tough going, because you've got two very different views of what needs to be done.

FOSTER: OK, Nariman Behravesh, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us with your perspective on that.

Well, just ahead on the show, crammed into boats fleeing for their lives -- Tunisian refugees arriving on a small Italian island. What the situation is like at the refugee center and how Italy is reacting, up next.


FOSTER: You're back with CONNECT THE WORLD, I'm Max Foster in London. Coming up, in search of a better life far from their troubled homeland. Tunisian refugees flood a tiny island that's become a gateway into Europe.

And then, a rare jailhouse interview. We'll talk with Pakistani men accused of murdering their own flesh and blood because she rejected an arranged marriage.

And later, our Connectors of the Day are an impressive cast of characters. We'll take you to the red carpet of the BAFTAs ahead on CONNECT THE WORLD.

All those stories ahead in the show for you but, first, a check of the headlines this hour.

Egypt's new military rulers are urging people to quit protesting and get back to work, warning the continued unrest is harming the economy. Workers of all stripes, even police officers, are hitting the streets to demand better pay.

Thousands of anti-government protesters took to the streets of Iran's capital, too. Security forces tried to disperse some of them with teargas, and clashes were reported in areas including Tehran University.

Japan has lost its status as the world's second-biggest economy. It's now ranked third behind the world's biggest, the US, and China, which has moved into second place. Japan's nominal GDP came in at nearly $5.5 trillion for 2010, around $400 billion shy of China's year-end figure.

The legendary Brazilian footballer Ronaldo has announced his retirement from the sport, saying injuries and illness are keeping him from playing at his best. The three-time World Player of the Year helped Brazil win two World Cups.

A quiet day in the US markets as stocks closed mixed and flat on Monday. Investors digested US president Barack Obama's budget proposal for 2012. Traders say there's little for Wall Street to react to in it.

Well, Italy is struggling to cope with the flood of refugees fleeing political upheaval in Tunisia. According to the United Nations, more than 5700 Tunisians have arrived in the country, forcing the Italian government to declare a humanitarian emergency.

Some are in Sicily, but most have arrived at the tiny island of Lampedusa. This map shows just how close it is to Tunisia. The -- and the Italian island is home to around 6,000 people, just, so you can imagine the impact this is having.

Earlier, I spoke to Laura Boldrini -- she's a spokesperson for the UNHCR -- about what the situation is like there.


LAURA BOLDRINI, SPOKESPERSON, UNHCR (via telephone): The island is used to receive migrants. In fact, the situation's that the reception center, which used to be open, was recently closed.

And this is why the situation's now more critical, because in the first days, there was no reception center available, so people were sheltered everywhere in the village, and only yesterday they reopened, the government decided to reopen the center.

So, now you have a situation like a center with 800 -- with a capacity of 800 is containing 2,000 people. So you can imagine, this is very difficult to handle, and I think, also, their assistance is very poor. And here we are together with our organization trying to also negotiate with the migrants, do a government mediation with them.

But of course, when you have such a big number in a small center, you also have to consider the possibility of adding tension within the center. This is why UNHCR is asking the local authorities and the government to increase the shelter of people outside the island towards other reception centers in Italy.

FOSTER: I know that there was some concern amongst the islanders that criminals were in these groups, because some criminals had got out of prison and Tunisia, and there's concern that they may end up on the island. Is there a lot of fear about these migrants?

BOLDRINI: Well, now is very difficult to say, because the identification process hasn't happened yet here in the island, because there are not facilities yet. As I said, the reception center was opened only yesterday, and there's plenty of people everywhere, so the facilities of the police are not in place.

So, now, it is rather difficult to say who are these people. But what we know is why the people are trying to leave the country. I would say that the majority of those who are here say they want a -- to get a job in Europe for economical reasons.


FOSTER: Spokesperson for the UNHCR, there. Now, elsewhere, behind bars in Pakistan, accused of so-called honor killing, CNN's Reza Sayah gets a rare chance to talk face-to-face with these men and get their sides of the story. That's up next, here on CONNECT THE WORLD.


FOSTER: The shocking death of a young woman in Pakistan is highlighting the problem of so-called "honor killings." Seventeen-year-old (sic) Saima Bibi paid the ultimate price for falling in love with a man her family didn't approve of. Reza Sayah has the story.


REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Police say something terrible happened in a village here in the district of Bahawalpur in Pakistan's southern Punjab.

A 21-year-old woman by the name of Saima Bibi is buried here. Police say her father and some relatives electrocuted her because she refused an arranged marriage and, instead, ran off to marry someone else.

If police are right, this is what's known as an "honor killing." It's when women are put to death by their families after being accused of infidelity or shameful behavior.

This is the police station that's investigating Bibi's death.

BABAR BAKHT QURESHI, BALAWALPUR POLICE CHIEF: She was tortured and there were signs of burns in the hands, on her feet, and on her back, even.

SAYAH: This is where Bibi's body was found. It's the kitchen area at the farmhouse where they live. There's conflicting stories as to what happened. Police say late last year, Bibi, who was an ethic Baloch, ran off to Karachi to secretly marry a fellow villager who wasn't Baloch.

Police say her father and three relatives went down to Karachi and duped her into coming back. They say when she continued to reject family demands to marry a relative, she was executed.

QURESHI: The accused are in our custody. They are being interrogated.

SAYAH: OK, we're about to meet Saima Bibi's father and her relatives who are in this jail. It's rare to get this kind of access. Now, her father has a totally different story. He says Bibi committed suicide.

ABDUL MAJEED, BIBI'S FATHER (through translator): She committed suicide by drinking pesticide. The moment I switched on the kitchen light, I saw her dead.

SAYAH: So, the father says it was suicide. The police say this evidence shows he's lying. It's a medical report that shows burn marks all over Bibi's back and neck.

A recent study shows one out of five homicides in Pakistan was an honor killing. Human rights groups say a lot of people wrongly link honor killings with Islam, but they say studies show it's more of a cultural problem, most often found within Baloch communities.

In a few weeks, Police say Bibi's father and her relatives will be in court, where a judge will decided if she, too, was a victim of a so-called honor killing. Reza Sayah, CNN, Bahawalpur, Pakistan.


FOSTER: Similar crimes have taken place in another -- a number of other Asian and Middle Eastern countries, including Egypt, Iraq, and Turkey, but they're not just limited to countries in majority Muslim populations. In the UK, 20-year-old Banaz Mahmod was killed after falling in love with a man her family rejected. Her body was found in a suitcase. She'd been strangled. In 2007, her father and uncle were jailed for life for murder.

In India last year, five men were sentenced to death in 2007 for murdering a couple who married against the wishes of village elders. Manoj and Babli were accused of violating local customs by marrying within the same sub-caste.

In Germany, a 23-year-old Turkish woman, Hatun Surucu was gunned down in 2005, allegedly by two of her brothers. The single mother had run away from an estranged marriage.

And the trial has begun in Italy of a Moroccan immigrant accused of stabbing his 18-year-old daughter to death. El Ketaoui Dafani faced murder charges -- faces murder charges. He allegedly became furious when his daughter fell in love with an Italian man.

Now, the problem of honor killings crosses borders, cultures, and religions. Joining me now via Skype is Akbar Ahmed, a regular guest on the show. He is chair of Islamic Studies at the American University in Washington and a former Pakistani ambassador to the UK. Thank you so much for joining us, as ever.


FOSTER: First of all, is this an Islamic problem or a cultural problem, in your view?

AHMED: Max, let me categorically state, honor killings are not Islamic. It would be absolutely forbidden in Islam for all kinds of reasons. Now, at the same time, they are widely prevalent in Muslim society. Their occurrences, unfortunately, are frequent in Muslim societies.

We've been discussing Pakistan, but Afghanistan, Iran, the Middle East, Jordan, which has a very enlightened regime and leadership, yet there are very widespread cases of honor killings reported frequently.

So, this is something -- this is a phenomenon rooted in traditional society where men feel that their honor is linked to the woman. And tragically, it is the father or the brothers who implement their savage punishment on these poor women.

And we are living in the age of CNN and Twitter and Facebook and constitution guarantees to the individual for human rights and civil liberties. This is a violation on all kinds of levels.

FOSTER: There's nothing in the Koran, is there, that justifies this sort of crime?

AHMED: Not at all, Max. In fact, any evidence must be in court. There must be credible witnesses, very often a number of witnesses. And above all, above all, there has to be a case.

Most of these cases I've been commissioned in the field, and I know even in my time when I recorded these in books I've written, were simply based on rumor or the desire of a man to have another wife, or simply a man getting fed up with his wife or a father forcing his will upon his daughter to marry someone.

These are really tragic cases showing the helplessness of women in these cases, and why Pakistan becomes particularly poignant is that Pakistan is the first Muslim country with a female prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, who went to Oxford, who stood for modern democracy, stood for women's rights. And, of course, we know her end. But she stood for something, and in that country, to have a case like this recently happen again is really tragic.

FOSTER: Just explain what you think the solution is to this, then. Because it seems it only happens in very traditional cultures of some kind, and it's very ingrained in that culture for this sort of crime to happen. How do you fight that? How do you change it? How do you move on?

AHMED: Max, before I answer that, it's not only in traditional culture. We had a case like this in Dallas when I was conducting my study of America, journey into America. We came across this case in Dallas, Texas, where an Egyptian father killed two of his daughters a couple of years back, believing that they had sort of strayed from the path of Islam.

So, it is a global phenomenon, it's not restricted to Muslims. In Canada, you had many cases of other non-Muslim communities, Asian communities, also involved in honor killings.

The death of honor killings will only come, Max, through the media, through stories like the ones you cover, so you expose them. Through education, through vocal women's -- women leaders, women's rights activists. Men standing up and declaring that this is not Islam, this is tyranny, and it must stop. This is nothing but a blot on civilization's face.

FOSTER: Do you think religious leaders are doing enough to make very clear that this has nothing to do with Islam even though it's often done in the name of Islam?

AHMED: That's a very good question. I think a lot of religious leaders are conflicted. They know this is not Islam, and I repeat this categorically, it is not Islam.

At the same time, they themselves are working and operating in tribal or rural societies. Very often, their congregation are entirely rural or tribal, and they would be completely out of step with their congregation if they began to challenge the basic customs of that society, and the basic customs of that society, unfortunately, are linked to these rather distorted notions of honor, and they often result in these terribly tragic cases that we are discussing.

FOSTER: And you've talked about how you've seen these cases in Dallas, we've talked about how they've happened in the UK. Why is it that a tribal culture doesn't dissipate when it's moved into a different culture, or sometimes almost seems to get more tribal, more ingrained. Have you ever worked out why that might be?

AHMED: Max, I've thought about, I've written about it, and this is going to be a huge problem in the 21st century. What you're really seeing is their different societies juxtaposed to each other, so you get Egyptian societies or Pakistani societies through their communities living, say, in the West, UK or the USA, we are discussing.

And the differences in their cultures, their customs between their home countries and the new country are what are causing the friction. And that friction is very often explosive, resulting in death.

So once again, until we have education, until the imams, the religious leaders, the community leaders, step forward and say "This is not Islam, it must stop," this, unfortunately, will continue. So you need a challenge within the community and you in the media can help by really airing the problem and discussing it like we are doing in public.

FOSTER: OK, thank you, Akbar Ahmed, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us, as ever. A regular expert on this show, of course.

Up next on CONNECT THE WORLD, Becky is off today, but she's left you with a very special set of interviews.


JESSE EISENBERG, ACTOR, "THE SOCIAL NETWORK": Every movie that's included here tonight, of course, is so wonderful. I like movies that are bad, so the fact -- so I love movies that are even not included. But to be included a -- on this list, tonight, is so special.


FOSTER: Well, coming up next, the stars of "The Social Network," "Black Swan," "The King's Speech" and more. CNN's special report from the red carpet at the BAFTAs, up next.


FOSTER: Well, last night's BAFTA awards were certainly a kingly affair. "The King's Speech" reigned at the ceremony, taking home seven awards, including Best Film. Becky was on the red carpet in London and caught up with the stars of that film and many others. Here's a look at her favorite moments as Britain celebrates the best in film and television.



AMY ADAMS, ACTRESS, "THE FIGHTER": This year's Leading Actor BAFTA goes to Colin Firth for "The King's Speech."


HARVEY WEINSTEIN, PRODUCER: It's been a great year for movies. "Black Swan's" amazing, "Social Network's" amazing. I mean, they all have been commercial, true-grit, really an amazing year.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST: I'm here with Tom Hooper, of course, the director of the movie that many people say is casting a regal shadow over the BAFTAs here at the Royal Opera House tonight. Fourteen nominations, that's quite something.

TOM HOOPER, DIRECTOR, "THE KING'S SPEECH": Yes, it's thrilling to be on the red carpet, here, with the most nominations, and to also -- to go to the Golden Globes with the most nominations there, and some of the most Oscar nominations. It's extraordinary to be in this situation, all the major awards.

ANDERSON: Yes, what is it about the movie, do you think? I'll ask you, because I know, I loved it.

HOOPER: I think it's just the way it moves people. And it moves people in a way that -- I'm being told people want to go back and re- experience it. And I've had numbers of stories of people who've gone to cinema more than once to see it.

Which is -- which -- it must be about something about how it makes people feel, and I think it makes people feel better about themselves. And there's a lot of love and compassion in the movie, and it's a celebration of friendship and courage and a lot of inspiring values.

ANDERSON: Just talk me through a red carpet moment. How does this feel?

EISENBERG: Oh, it's frightening, because -- when I was younger, people would call my name, and I would turn, and they would throw something at me, so I've kind of the same Pavlovian fears on this carpet.

ANDERSON: Listen, you were on "Saturday Night Live" the other day with, as we all know now, Mark Zuckerberg. How did that go? How did he react to you?

EISENBERG: It was great. The fact that he agreed to do something so ridiculous with me on live television was so gracious that it couldn't have been a better situation to meet a person that I've played in a movie.

ANDERSON: How does it feel to be at the BAFTAs?

ADAMS: It feels great. It feels really, really good. I was just saying, it's so much fun being here, there's such a great energy this weekend. It's been a lot of fun.

ANDERSON: This is ofttimes seen as a dress rehearsal for the Oscars. Your sense?

ADAMS: No, it's its own event. I think that it stands on its own.

DARREN ARONOFSKY, DIRECTOR, "BLACK SWAN": We just wanted to scare the hell out of people, so we just went for it. And it's great, because people seem to like it.

ANDERSON: And I think you have scared the life out of us. Talk to me about Natalie Portman --


ANDERSON: Who isn't here tonight for all the right reasons, of course.

ARONOFSKY: Yes. Natalie -- she's got her little thing going on and so, she couldn't get on a plane, unfortunately. But she -- I'm so proud of her. She -- she worked for 365 days, eight hours a day, training to become a ballerina. I gave her a huge task, to become a prima ballerina, which normally takes 20 years. And she did it in a year pretty convincingly.

And then, when we were shooting, every single day, she gave her -- her spirit in every single scene, every single shot in the movie, she's in. And she just exposed herself, and I'm just so proud. People are responding to it, and it's worth it.


VINCENT CASSEL AS THOMAS LEROY: Like this, it's like a spinning whip, attack it! Attack it!


ARONOFSKY: The amazing thing is, people have been calling the Royal Ballet as well as New York City Ballet asking when Natalie Portman is going to be dancing in "Swan Lake."

ANDERSON: You're joking.

ARONOFSKY: No, I swear.

ANDERSON: I'm going to as your wife whether she thinks you're going to win Best Supporting Actor tonight, because I know you're probably way too modest to say it --



ANDERSON: Oh, you are?

RUFFALO: Oh, yes. Are you kidding me?

COIGNEY: He's going to jump up before they even open up the envelope.

RUFFALO: Yes, I mean, it's locked, it's a done deal. Are you kidding me?

ANDERSON: What about for the other two?

COIGNEY: He just loves to -- vote for an American, you know.

RUFFALO: It's a shoe-in.

COIGNEY: We're all American here.

ANDERSON: You're obviously wearing "The King's Speech" hat tonight, but there's another hat you can wear, tonight. Queen and witch, of course --


ANDERSON: Because "Harry Potter" also up for, or certainly, getting an outstanding award for British film. So, tell me, which hat are you wearing? I'm assuming you're wearing the queen's --

CARTER: Apparently, "Alice" is up for something, too, so I could -- I'm up for big-headed queen, Queen Mum -- normal-sized headed Queen Mum, and witch. So, but I'm only up for Best Supporting something --


ANDERSON: For Best Supporting --

CARTER: For small-sized headed queen, yes.

ANDERSON: She's just up for Best Supporting Actress, of course.

EMMA STONE, ACTRESS, "EASY-A": Hello, hello, nice to meet you!

ANDERSON: How are you feeling tonight?

STONE: Oh, I am -- I am overwhelmed and beside myself and -- every emotion you can imagine.

ALEJANDRO GONZALEZ INARRITU, DIRECTOR, "BIUTIFUL": I think every academy, in a way, celebrates their own cinema, country's cinema, local cinema, in a way, their own language. So I understand that this is a celebration for British cinema, and they included me -- it's English speaking, and they include and invite as a host some foreign language territories to participate. I understand that perfectly.

ANDERSON: OK. And do you feel the same way, then, about the Oscars in two week's time?

INNARRITU: Yes. That's an American Academy, you know? In Mexico, we have the Ariels, and there is no even category to invite foreign-language films.

ANDERSON: And how did you cope with playing the character? Because she was a difficult character.

BARBARA HERSHEY, ACTRESS, "BLACK SWAN": Yes, well, she's mentally ill, basically. She's not a happy puppy. But the movie's from Natalie's character's point of view, so you're seeing her through the eyes of somebody who's going crazy. So, as she escalates, the character becomes more demon-like.

But I was approaching it from a more human point of view, because I think the mother knows what's going on with the daughter. I think she's the only character who does know what's going on, and she's terrified for her.

ANDERSON: And also remarkable, though, that Facebook has taken off during the sort of phenomenon that is the Facebook movie.

KEVIN SPACEY, PRODUCER, "THE SOCIAL NETWORK": Yes, it's -- I mean, it's particularly sort of remarkable to us that the timing of, first, all of the attention that Mark Zuckerberg got this year, individually, being "Time" magazine's Person of the Year, the extraordinary donation he made to the New Jersey schools. And --

CROWD: Kevin! Kevin! Kevin! Kevin!



SPACEY: Took me a moment to realize they were actually yelling my --

ANDERSON: I thought they were saying "Jesse, Jesse."

SPACEY: I was looking for Kevin Costner, I didn't know they were actually talking about me.

ANDERSON: Have you any idea yet what Zuckerberg really thinks of this? I just asked Jesse, who was on "Saturday Night Live" with him, of course, recently, he said "We didn't have time to actually talk about whether he liked the movie or not."

SPACEY: Well, I suspect that for a while, probably, to be 26 years old and realize they're making a movie about you, it's probably a bit daunting. And I suspect there may have been things in the movie that were uncomfortable. But at the end of the day, he seems to be finally sort of embracing that maybe the movie's been good for his company.

ANDERSON: Who do you think's going to win the big one?

GEMMA ARTERTON, ACTRESS: Well, I think Colin Firth will win, and Natalie Portman will win. However, I really would like Annette Bening to win and Javier Bardem.

ANDERSON: When we talked last time, you said that you hadn't been poked, you'd never been poked, and you wouldn't be poked on Facebook. You change your mind, now, at the success of the movie?

AARON SORKIN, WRITER, "THE SOCIAL NETWORK": I haven't tried it yet. People tell me that it's fun being poked on Facebook. Maybe I'll give it a try.

ANDERSON: How's it feel to be here at the BAFTA's, Britain, it's our sort of scene here, with the Oscars coming up in less than two week's time?

SORKIN: I know, it's fantastic. Believe me, if you're an American writer, all you aspire to be is an English writer, so this is fantastic for me.

ANDERSON: The Best Actress nomination here, Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars, and you're 14 years old? This is remarkable.

HAILEE STEINFELD, ACTRESS, "TRUE GRIT": It is. I'm so honored to be here and to be a part of this all. It's amazing.

ANDERSON: It's really remarkable. Just talk me very briefly through "True Grit." I mean, you're acting with some of the most amazing actors of our generation in a movie that was launched by one of the best actors of all time, of course, John Wayne.

STEINFELD: Yes. I -- it's kind of an interesting -- first of all, I think the Cohen brothers did this project as an adaptation to the book more than a remake to the original John Wayne film. And so, I was able to take it as if the film hadn't been made and it was just an adaptation of the book. But it's an incredible role, an incredible story with incredible people, so I'm very blessed.


FOSTER: Amazing story. If you want to see more of Becky on the red carpet, be sure to become a fan of our Facebook page. We've uploaded some behind the scenes photos of the big night. Go to

Tomorrow, we continue our film coverage, now, with an interview with "The King's Speech" composer, Alexandre Desplat. For more on him and other Connectors of the Day, do head to

I'm Max Foster, that is your world connected. Thanks for watching. The world headlines and "BackStory" will follow this short break.