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NATO Targets Tripoli; Photographer Documents Japan's Nuclear Disaster; Princess for a Day

Aired April 14, 2011 - 16:00:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST: Smoke in the sky over Tripoli as NATO targets the Libyan capital. But divisions in the alliance emerge over just how hard to hit the Gadhafi regime.

Plus, nuclear ghost town. A photographer ventures into Japan's danger zone to document what the disaster left behind.

And princess for a day. The wedding traditions in India that make even commoners feel like royalty.

These stories and more, tonight, as we CONNECT THE WORLD.

First up tonight, both sides in the Libyan war are reporting new civilian casualties amid a surge in the fighting. War planes were heard swooping low as thunderous explosions rocked Tripoli earlier today. Libyan state TV says civilians were killed in what were NATO air strikes.

Residents in Misrata, meantime, say Moammar Gadhafi's forces have stepped up their assault there, launching blistering new attacks that killed at least 20 people. The city's port, its only real lifeline, was targeted. But some desperately needed aid has managed to reach Misrata's shores. The French Red Cross says it delivered 80 tons of food and medical supplies.

Well, NATO says it's committed to protecting Libyan civilians with all necessary resources. NATO ministers meeting today in Berlin also agreed that Moammar Gadhafi must leave power.

Libya's leader, though, is as defiant as ever. He appeared in public for the first time in days earlier today, projecting the image of supreme confidence as he rode around Tripoli in an open-roofed car. Our Frederik Pleitgen joins us now from the capital with more.

A rare appearance from the Libyan leader, Fred?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Becky, it is a rare appearance. However, we are seeing a lot more of him than we have in the past month.

Basically, what happened is, after the air campaign started a couple of weeks ago, you didn't see Moammar Gadhafi at all, really. And then, just the past couple of days, we've now seen him twice. And right now, he's called journalists to his compound again, so he might be seen tonight for another time.

So, this does show that he still is trying to portray himself as being very defiant, someone who's out there, riding in an open car, as we saw, down the streets of Tripoli. He then went, apparently, into a residential area before going back into his compound.

And this, of course, came, as you said before, Becky, on a day where there were some very heavy air strikes here in the city. We heard a lot of explosions, here, a lot of anti-aircraft fire that was going up. We were, then, later taken to one site where a radar station had been hit by a NATO air strike.

However, the government didn't want us to know that it was a radar station that was hit. They were trying to tell us that it was a university that was hit. Just have a look at what happened.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): The Libyan government authorities said they would take us to the site of the air strike. They haven't done that, so far. Instead, they took us to this building. This is, apparently, a cafeteria building for the university here in Tripoli, and some people who say they were inside the building when the bomb hit say that they were absolutely terrified, of course, of the explosion, that they didn't see this coming in any way, shape or form.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was a loud explosion, it was like an earthquake, I swear to God, it was like an earthquake and just blew all the glasses all the way around and started to pound away.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): There appears to be a military base about 500 yards down the road, and say that seems to be the target of this air strike. This building itself, the cafeteria building, sustained really only minimal damage.

PLEITGEN (on camera): One thing they did produce was this piece of shrapnel, which they say came from this particular air strike. Obviously, we have absolutely no way of verifying that at this point in time.


PLEITGEN (on camera): As usual when they take us to events like this one, there's a totally spontaneous demo. It took about an hour for them to show up, here. We were wondering why the bus hadn't left yet to take us back to the hotel, and now we know.

All right. So, they finally allowed us to get a little big closer, and we saw some smoke back there, which appears to be from a radar station that was hit. We saw that through the trees as we were driving here.

Now, however, they say they want us to leave, as we're getting a little bit closer to try and film all of this. They said that, apparently, the farmer over there doesn't want us to film his property, but he was the same guy who allowed us to film his family and interview his family before.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The glass in front of our house has been broken and the wall was cracked.

PLEITGEN: The bomb that dropped here was part of concerted air strikes that happened over the course of the day today.

It was the heaviest air strike that we've seen here in Tripoli over the past couple of days, with protracted anti-aircraft fire going up into the air, several air raids that we could hear, and planes circling over Tripoli for about an hour. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Tripoli, Libya.


PLEITGEN: Yes, Becky, so you just can't beat the truthful public relations work that we got there today. However, it was, as I said, a day of a lot of airstrikes here in the city. As I said, it went on for about an hour, some pretty heavy airstrikes.

Now, as you mentioned, the Libyan government did say that some people were wounded in these air strikes. We asked to see these people. That never materialized throughout the day, Becky.

ANDERSON: Interesting. All right, Fred, thanks for that. That's on a day, of course, that NATO foreign ministers were trying to present a united front on Libya, but behind the scenes, today, they struggled to iron out some lingering disputes. As Diana Magnay now tells us, they agree on the end goal but, perhaps, not the pace of their bombing campaign.


DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): If there wasn't much unity around the table at this meeting, the secretary-general certainly wasn't letting on.

He said that the alliance was resolved to keep up the pressure on the Gadhafi regime in the name of protecting civilian life, to keep that up with relentless airstrikes. Although he did say that he would probably be requiring member states to contribute more military assets to the campaign.

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN, SECRETARY-GENERAL OF NATO: To avoid civilian casualties, we need very sophisticated equipment. So, we need a few more precision fighter ground attack aircraft for air-to-ground missions.

MAGNAY: Who's going to supply those fighter jets, though, is an open question. When asked about that, he said, "There aren't any names out there right now, but I am optimistic that someone will come through."

He also emphasized that the end goal here is for a political solution and not a military solution.

Now, the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, met earlier with the German chancellor and emphasized that they shared a common goal.

HILLARY CLINTON, US SECRETARY OF STATE: We are also sharing the same goal, which is to see the end of the Gadhafi regime in Libya, and we are contributing in many ways in order to see that goal realized.

MAGNAY: Still, divided opinion within the alliance about how to achieve that goal, with the UK and France, on the one hand, calling for ramping up of military action, and countries like Germany, hosting this conference, saying that military intervention in the first place wasn't a good idea.

All this, of course, as the stalemate on the ground continues. Diana Magnay, CNN, Berlin.


ANDERSON: All right. Well that NATO meeting, of course, you'll remember, comes a day after Qatar convened an international conference on Libya. Today, US president Barack Obama welcomed the Qatari emir to the White House, thanking him for his country's efforts. Qatar is the only Arab state to take part in military operations in Libya.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have just completed a very useful conversation. I expressed to him my appreciation of the leadership that the emir has shown when it comes to democracy in the Middle East and, in particular, the work that they have done in trying to promote a peaceful transition in Libya.

We would not have been able, I think, to shape the kind of broad-based international coalition that includes not only our NATO members, but also includes Arab states without the emir's leadership.

AMIR HAMAD BIN KHALIFA AL-THANI, EMIR OF QATAR (through translator): I would like to extend to you our deep appreciation and thanks for the position the United States has taken in support of the democratization process that has taken place in Tunisia, in Egypt, and what is attempting to take place in Libya.


ANDERSON: All right. So, that is you bang up to date on what's been going on re. Libya.

Well, some Middle Eastern governments, like Qatar, are taking an active role in trying to re -- resolve the regional uprisings. At least one country is staying out of the fray. Kevin Flower looks at why Israel may be keeping a low profile at this point. Take a look at this.


KEVIN FLOWER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): -- carefully and you will hear it. From the green slopes of the Golan Heights to the wind-swept deserts of the Negev, it's the sound of silence. And it's one that Israel has enjoyed for nearly 40 years.


FLOWER (voice-over): In 1957 and 1973, it was the din of war that permeated these areas, as Israel battled Egypt and Syria. Today, borders with both are quiet, but amid the Middle East revolutions and political turmoil, there's an air of uncertainty as Israel tries to make sense of the evolving regional order.

DAN MERIDOR, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL: I try every morning to think anew, to say what we knew yesterday may not be relevant. Try to think, what will the month of May or June look like? How will it be developing in Egypt or in Syria or in other countries? And I must say that I think of it, I think other people think of it, but we don't know.

FLOWER (voice-over): The demands for political change in the region have created a dilemma for the Jewish state. Should it support protest movements that, if successful, may or may not be friendly to Israel? Or try to hold onto an eroding status quo that, while not ideal for Israel, has provided years of stability.

Despite initial support for the outgoing Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, the government of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has offered mostly vague assessments and sweeping policy objectives.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL: So, which will it be? Will it be democracy or will it be theocracy? And there are, of course, many possibilities in between. We all would like to see the first possibility.

FLOWER (voice-over): Analyst Jonathan Spyer says the less-is-more approach is the right one.

JONATHAN SPYER, HERZLIYA INTERDISCIPOLINARY CENTER: Israel has nothing to gain by speaking out loudly, and I think Israel would like to stay out of it.

FLOWER (voice-over): But staying out of it is sometimes easier said than done. Recent Cairo street protests aimed at Israel underscored Israeli fears that the next popularly-elected Egyptian government may seek to change the terms of the country's existing peace treaty.

And Syrian support for groups like Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon is a source of ongoing worry in Israel.

But when it comes to the role of Iran in the region and Tehran's claims that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, Israeli circumspection is forgotten.

NETANYAHU: If Europe and other free societies are issuing calls on leaders to stop butchering their people and putting them on notice that they may be held for war crimes for doing this, then these same pressures should be brought to bear on the tyrants of Tehran as well.

FLOWER (voice-over): For most of the region, however, Israel seems resigned to waiting things out and maintaining the quiet. Kevin Flower, CNN, Jerusalem.


ANDERSON: Let's get a little more perspective, now, on who fits in where in the dramatic changes sweeping across the Middle East. We're joined in the studio, tonight, by the former UN deputy secretary-general, Mark Malloch Brown. He's now chairman of global affairs at FTI Consulting.

Kevin's report, Mark, highlighting a very circumspect Netanyahu with regard to the regional uprisings whilst imploring the West to keep focus on Iran. Surprised?

MARK MALLOCH BROWN, FORMER UK MINISTER FOR AFRICA, ASIA, UNITED NATIONS: Well, circumspect and Mr. Netanyahu usually don't belong in the same sentence, so --


BROWN: -- it is very out of character. But I think very understandable. This is a troubling transition in the region for Israel. It needn't be a bad one, if you get stronger, more representative democratic governments that carry on the interests they've inherited from the predecessors, it could actually lead to more stable peace.

ANDERSON: They're looking at their borders, of course, but I wonder whether they're looking internally, as well, at this point. Can peace along the lines of a two-state solution with a sort of functioning Palestinian state and a secure state of Israel be part of this change, do you think?

BROWN: Well, I don't think in the immediate term. I think that the negotiations have been sort of thrust into the back waters, if you like, by what's going on. All diplomats are preoccupied by the Arab Spring and its consequences.

But when the dust settles and people take stock, it may have actually created some new opportunities. Certainly, the status quo before wasn't doing much in terms of moving peace forward.

ANDERSON: Open up these diplomatic doors, if you will, for us. You've spent most of your life embroiled in these sort of negotiations. Of the unrest in Libya, for example, you wrote recently, and I quote, "It is not just Libya that now risks long-term division. Telltale signs of fragmentation in the international community's approach are opening up." What do you mean by that, Mark?

BROWN: Well, I wrote that 10 days ago or so, and ever since, we've just seen the split widen between those who wanted a very narrow, limited action to prevent civilian casualties in Benghazi, the humanitarian mission, if you see -- if you like, and those who want to go much further and use that Security Council Resolution and this current military intervention to go all the way and depose Gadhafi.

And this is becoming a very distracting division, because Libya itself, while it's critical to protect the civilians, is frankly a sideshow to the broader change in the Middle East.

ANDERSON: We heard from Obama tonight. Certainly didn't hear the sort of -- the big contextual speech that some might have expected from him. Only 18 months ago, he made this speech in Egypt about how important the Muslim world was to him as a new president of the United States of America.

So, we haven't heard, perhaps, what we might have heard from him as he speaks to the emir tonight, but does the, do you think, the international community -- and I look to the States a little bit when I'm talking here -- risk being seen as speaking with forked tongue.

Libya bad, Saudi good. Yemen bad, Syria bad, Bahrain good. How do they get over this hump?

BROWN: Yemen is a case, in fact, of a country which has been a close ally of the US, and yet, the US is now pressing for regime change there even though a peaceful kind.

I actually, contrary to most commentators here in London, actually think Obama's had a pretty good conflict. I think he's managed to balance the pressure for change, for people to be given a chance, have a bigger say in their choice of governments in the region, with not ripping up relationships that are decades old and are critical to US interests in the region.

I frankly think he's shown a little bit more judicious caution and care in his approach then, perhaps, Britain and France have shown.

ANDERSON: Interesting. We're going to have to leave it there. We thank you very much, indeed, for coming on. This story continues. Thank you.

BROWN: Thank you.

ANDERSON: Mark Malloch Brown for you.

Images of an abandoned town. One brave photographer risks his own health to capture the eerie scenes inside Japan's radiation zone. That coming up for you here on CNN.

And the beauty contest turned ugly. Why one woman in the running for Miss Universe is at the center of what is a sinister set of threats. That, later this hour. You're watching CNN. Stay with us.


ANDERSON: It's the place few have dared to enter. Fukushima is a no- go zone amid fears that the town has been contaminated from the fallout from the nearby disaster-struck nuclear plant.

Well, tonight, we're going to bring you a rare and surreal snapshot of this deserted Japanese community. Stay with us to meet the photographer who risked exposure to radiation to show us a place where time is standing still.

That's coming up in about six or seven minutes. I'm Becky Anderson in London, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN. At 20 minutes past 9:00, a look at the other stories that we are following for you this hour.

Syria's president announced a new cabinet today in a bid to calm tensions. State television also reports that people detained during the recent unrest will be released, as long as they're innocent of what are being called crimes against the nation. Well, Syria is bracing for widespread protests again after prayers on Friday.

Well, the fight, apparently, is not over. That's according to the stepdaughter of the former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo, who told CNN her family has been wronged.


MARIE ANTOINETTE SINGLETON, LAURENT GBAGBO'S STEPDAUGHTER: I have put together a team of lawyers to go look into this situation. It's absolutely scandalous to see what's going on today.

My mother being beaten, everybody can see it. Her hair has been pulled, she was thrown on the ground with rebels all around her, pulling her hair, touching her like she's afraid. This is the kind of democracy that Ouattara is bringing to Cote d'Ivoire.


ANDERSON: Well, Gbagbo was arrested this week, you'll remember, ending a four-month battle over the country's November election result. The former president is being safeguarded by the United Nations pending his trial.

Another embarrassing incident involving an air traffic controller has cost a top official in the United States his job. The official who oversees controllers for the Federal Aviation Administration is stepping down. This comes as a controller in Reno, Nevada is accused of falling asleep on the job. Several similar incidents have been reported this year.

Police and FBI agents in New York are searching areas of interest as part of an investigation into a suspected serial killer. At least eight bodies, four of them prostitutes, have been discovered since December. More remains, including a human skull, were found on Monday. Helicopters have now been brought in to widen the search.


THOMAS KRUMPTER, ACTING POLICE COMMISSIONER, NEW YORK: At this point, the aviation bureau identified a significant number of items that aren't natural to the area, and we'll be going in with the assistance of aviation and clarifying what the actual items are.


ANDERSON: Britain's prime minister has been accused of inflaming extremism over his plans to cut the number of immigrants entering the country. In a speech earlier, David Cameron promised to bring immigration down to levels not seen since the 1990s.

But the target drew criticism from the country's business secretary, Vince Cable, who described the comments as "very unwise." Mr. Cameron defended his stance as moderate, sensible, and reasonable.


DAVID CAMERON, PRIME MINISTER OF BRITAIN: When there have been significant new -- significant numbers of new people arriving in neighborhoods, perhaps not able to speak the same language as those living there, on occasions, not really wanting or even being willing to integrate, that has created a kind of discomfort and a disjointedness in some neighborhoods.

This has been the experience for many people in our country, and I believe it's untruthful and unfair not to speak about it and not to address it.


ANDERSON: The British prime minister speaking earlier today.

Well, the Dalai Lama preached the power of forgiveness at an event in Ireland. The Nobel Laureate and exiled spiritual leader of the Tibetan people is wrapping up a two-day visit to the nation with a speech at the University of Limerick.

At a stop in Dublin on Wednesday, the 76-year-old said the world places too much emphasis on material values.

Well, the piano on which Paul McCartney wrote the hit song "Yesterday" has gone on the auction block. The 1926 art deco green piano at the heart of one of the Beatles' most successful songs went up for bid in London. No word yet on how much it sold for.

Also included in the sale is the first original recording contract signed by the band. When we get the price, we'll bring it to you. I'd imagine it's going to be huge.

Well, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN. Still to come, search teams move closer to Japan's disaster-struck nuclear facilities to recover hundreds of bodies. And we're bringing you a rare look inside what is a no-go zone.

And the changing face of Islam. We debate the ugly reaction to a Muslim beauty queen. You're watching CNN. Stay with us.


ANDERSON: You're back with CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson in London for you.

Now, Japanese authorities have again moved to allay concerns over the country's disaster-struck nuclear facilities. Higher radiation levels have been detected at reactor four, we're told. A reading TEPCO officials are attributing to debris from outside the plant and not the damaged fuel rods.

Well, final test results on the fuel pool in question are yet to be confirmed, but concerns remain over the water temperature, which is well above acceptable levels.

Despite the ongoing risks at Fukushima, for the first time on Thursday, search teams moved within 10 kilometers of the nuclear plant. Dressed in protective suits, they combed through mountains of rubble for bodies. The death toll stands at nearly 13,500 and nearly 15,000 people are missing in the wake of the March 11th tsunamis. The numbers quite remarkable, aren't they?

Well, official search teams aren't the only ones entering the exclusion zone. A group of animal lovers have been risking radiation exposure to save pets left behind, may of them tethered when their owners fled more than a month ago.

And then, there's the photographer who, armed with nothing more than a mask and a camera, managed to gain entry to the no-go zone. Her is what is his surreal portrait of a place where time is now standing still.


ATHIT PERAWONGMETHA, PHOTOGRAPHER (voice-over): When I went into the zone, it's like time stopped. It's like a Hollywood movie. You woke up, and then you walk into the middle of nowhere.

Everything should be fine. Everything fine, everything OK. But no people. It's very scary.

PERAWONGMETHA (on camera): My name is Athit Perawongmetha. I am working as a freelance photographer for Getty Images.

PERAWONGMETHA (voice-over): I decided to go to Fukushima because all the press didn't go in that site before. I went there with my friend, Japanese photographer, and we rent a car and drive to the zone, inside together.

I have no permission at all. I just put the place into the GPS and just drive into the zone, but police try to block in every road we try to get in. But it has some roads that are very small. We can sneak inside.

I'm really afraid of the radiation because the news comes from everywhere. I just have a mask. Only mask, and then just walk. It's OK.

When I was on the screening center, the officer say it should be by. You have to go to laundry. And my camera had to be cleaned with alcohol or something, and then my shoes in the acceptable level.

Everything in that town is stopped. There is no people, but everything is working fine. The traffic lights work fine. When it's getting dark, the lighting from the electric post is up, and then some -- some houses, air conditioner is still turned on.

It's like, people should stay there, but don't have any people staying there. I don't see any people on the first day.

And that city is untouchable. Everything from the tsunami is still there. In the past three weeks, everything is still the same, devastated, have a very big devastated area inside.

This body showed up and then, I just -- I just walked by the corpse and just looked at the body.

Everything I saw is like a dream. I hope Japan is going to come back soon, like they came back after World War II. And Japan rebirth again.


ANDERSON: Remarkable images. And if you want to help Japan's tsunami and quake victims, you can make a difference. Do remember, you can find out more heading to All the information, there, on how you can help out,

We will be right back.


ANDERSON: A very warm welcome back. At just after half past nine in London, I'm Becky Anderson. This is CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN.

Coming up, we're going to take a look at the Muslim model facing death threats over her bid to enter the Miss Universe contest.

Jewels of Ecuadorian Andes. How these indigenous women are fighting poverty using all that nature provides.

And a wedding to rival the wedding. Taking on the British royals in India, where sheer extravagance is just par for the course.

That's the next half hour here on CONNECT THE WORLD. Do stay with us. Before we get to that, let's get you a quick check of the headlines this hour.

Residents of Misrata are reporting a deadly new assault by the Libyan regime. They say nearly two dozen people were killed when government forces attacked they city's port, a vital lifeline for humanitarian aid.

NATO says it's committed to protecting Libyan civilians with all necessary resources. Foreign ministers met in Berlin earlier today, promising to keep up the military effort, yet they remain divided over calls by France and Britain to step up air strikes.

Syria's president announced a new government in a bid to calm tensions. State television also reports people detained during recent arrests -- unrest will be released if they are innocent. Syria is bracing for widespread protests once again on Friday.

Well, the head of the US air traffic control system has resigned. This after the latest incident involving a controller who, apparently, fell asleep on the job. Officials say a medical flight was trying to land but couldn't reach the tower.

And US president Barack Obama is heading to his hometown of Chicago this evening to begin fundraising for his reelection campaign. It comes after the president announced his intention to seek a second term.

Many young women dream of being crowned as a beauty queen, but one Miss Universe hopeful has come under ugly attack for wanting to represent Britain in the glamorous pageant. Richard Greene has got her story.


RICHARD GREENE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Shanna Bukhari is a fashion model from Manchester, England. She was born in England, she studied English literature in college, and she hopes to be the first Muslim to represent her country at the Miss Universe contest.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just lean a little bit more --

GREEN (voice-over): Unfortunately for her, not everyone likes that idea.

SHANNA BUKHARI, MISS UNIVERSE HOPEFUL: I've received a lot of hate mail. I've had races -- racists, I've had a minority from Muslim community, I've had it from all religions and all communities that dislike what I'm doing.

GREENE (voice-over): She says she's gotten message through Facebook calling her a "dirty Muslim," telling her that Britain is a "white country" and, on the other hand, that she's defiling her religion, that she should be murdered.

But, she says, she gets more support than criticism from all communities. On the streets of Manchester, no one seems to have a problem with a Muslim representing Britain at the Miss Universe contest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm up for anybody should represent Great Britain if they're happy. No problem at all.

GREENE (voice-over): But some Muslim community leaders have a different view.

MOHAMMED SHAFIQ, RAMADHAN FOUNDATION: Islam is very clear that women should dress in a modest way and guard their modesty. And certainly, as a liberal Muslim myself, I do believe that she should do just that.

GREENE (voice-over): Shanna Bukhari says she could do a lot of good charity work as Miss Universe. But Mohammed Shafiq isn't convinced.

SHAFIQ: I oppose these sort of pageantries where women have to be paraded in bikinis and idolized as sexual objects and then, spend a year promoting peace. You can promote peace without having the title Mrs. Universe or Mrs. UK, for that matter.

GREENE (voice-over): Shanna Bukhari insists she can be both a beauty queen and a good Muslim.

BUKHARI: I do believe in my religion. My religion is for myself, and I do not believe that I should be judged on how I am, because this competition doesn't define me as a person. And it doesn't make me any less of a Muslim being in a pageant like this.

GREENE (voice-over): She's getting support from another trailblazer, the first Muslim Miss USA, Rima Fakih, who says "go for it."

RIMA FAKIH, MISS USA 2010: Be proud of who you are, and no matter what anyone tells you, by using religion as a tool against you, don't let that affect you.

GREENE (on camera): People don't focus much more on Rima Fakih being the first Muslim USA, she says. They just think of her as Miss USA. Whether Shanna Bukhari's story turns out the same way may say a lot about Britain and how it's adapting to its own rapidly-growing Muslim minority. Richard Greene, CNN, Manchester, England.


ANDERSON: Of course, it's a story that also begs the question, is the face of Islam changing? Are we seeing a different Muslim women in the modern world?

Well, I'm joined, now, by Shelina Zahra Janmohamed, who's the author of "Love in a Headscarf," and executive director of the Muslim Women's Network here in the UK, Shaista Gohir.

Do you sympathize with our beauty pageant contestant?

SHELINA ZAHRA JANMOHAMED, AUTHOR, "LOVE IN A HEADSCARF": Being a Muslim woman's a really challenging thing, as it is just being any kind of woman, deciding what you're going to do out in the world, how you're going to look, how you're going to present yourself.

And I think Shanna's put herself right in the middle of that question, what does it mean to a British Muslim woman today?

ANDERSON: We talked earlier on, and you said you could sympathize with her to a certain extent. I mean, she's having a horrific time.

SHAISTA GOHIR, MUSLIM WOMEN'S NETWORK UK: Yes, I do sympathize with her, because from time to time, when I speak out on women's rights, I get abusive e-mails saying to me, "Why are you on mainstream TV with a naked head. You're a bad Muslim girl," or "You're not even a Muslim at all."

So, I do sympathize with her. And I think the current hostile is very -- the current environment is very hostile towards Muslim women. I think their bodies have become a battle for every debate. And I think there's a pressure to conform so, although I may personally not agree with her choice, I would vociferously defend her right to actually make that choice.

But I would equally, though, defend the right of a Muslim woman to cover her face. I think women should actually be making their own choices.

ANDERSON: Yes, you have said in the past that women's clothing has become a battleground for Islam.

Shelina, you don't condemn our contestant her right to take part, but I know that you've said neither would you -- nor would you expect your daughter to want to, nor would you allow her to do it.

JANMOHAMED: In my opinion, beauty pageants are really outdated. They should be a thing of the past, where we try and judge women by what they look like. Women already have that pressure to go out there and conform to a certain stereotype of beauty. Why women would want to go out and perpetuate that themselves is really beyond me.

But I agree with Shaista, you know? Women need to decide for themselves how they want to dress and how they want to go out there, and what they want to make of the world.

And I, actually, have the opposite issue as to Shaista. People come to me and say, "You can't wear a headscarf and be British, you can't wear a headscarf and be Muslim and be part of the society we live in."

So, I think we need to kind of unpack all these issues and let Muslim women can be what they want to be.

ANDERSON: I wonder if we have to move past the headscarf, at this point.

GOHIR: Well, I think -- I think the problem is, Muslim women are either accused of not being integrated enough, which is probably happening to you, or being accused of not being Muslim enough, which is happening to me.

So, I do think Muslim women need to probably raise their voices a bit more and say, hang on. I want to define for myself what modesty is and not be sort of held hostage to patriarchal interpretations of --

ANDERSON: Because modestly, of course, is important to any woman of the Islamic faith.

JANMOHAMED: I think that somebody who says that they are a Muslim and wants to practice as a Muslim will say that modesty's important. The variation comes in what does that mean? So, for some women, it will mean covering their hair, like it does for me. For some, it will mean covering their face, and for some, it means not doing either of those things. And we have to allow women to decide for themselves.

Because they do think about these things in great detail. It's not something that Muslim women take lightly.

ANDERSON: Shelina, you used to consider yourself a feminist. Some people would argue that being a Muslim and being a feminist are mutually exclusive. Do you -- I mean, do you understand, at least, that argument? You probably don't buy it, by any stretch, but --

JANMOHAMED: I think historically, feminism has had an idea that was kind of white middle class Western, and what Muslim women all around the world are saying, actually, we believe, and our faith empowers us to believe, that men and women are equal and they have an equal role to play in society, and they're equally valuable to the way that society plays out.

So, those are things that I aspire to, and those are things that I try and write about in my work.

ANDERSON: Shaista, do you think that this beauty pageant and this contestant, who says she -- she's in it because she wants to win, not because she wants to win, necessarily, as a Muslim, but just -- she's there, she's British, she wants --

But does it suggest that there is a changing face to Muslim women today, or is that just a naive thing to say?

GOHIR: I think the problem is, on either side of the debate, Muslim women are viewed as one monolithic block. And I think their diversity is totally ignored. Their diverse backgrounds, cultures, and actually, the diversity in which they want to practice their faith.

And I think this week, it's the hot -- that diversity has been highlighted, so on Monday, the burqa ban came into -- ban enforced in France. So, you've got Muslim women who choose to cover their face.

At the other end of the spectrum, you have a Muslim woman that is choosing to take her clothes off. And actually, that just shows the whole spectrum of Muslim women, and there are so many in between, and I think we need to highlight that diversity all the time.

JANMOHAMED: Yes, I don't think we need to agree with everybody's opinions, but I think we can have a space for everybody's opinions. And that's -- that's an important thing.

ANDERSON: You say "we." Are you talking about "we" as women, as Muslim women, or "we" as the Muslim community? Because I'm wondering whether most Muslim men would agree with you.

JANMOHAMED: I actually think most --

ANDERSON: Is that the problem?

JANMOHAMED: I think, actually, most Muslims, including men and women, of course, are relatively accepting of the fact, people make choices. And the kind of comments that this young lady says she's received have been such -- from a very, very small minority.

ANDERSON: You're shaking your head.

GOHIR: I would just disagree there, because I think, in the last decade or so, there has been a rise in religiosity, and that has led to some Muslims in the Muslim community becoming more conservative.

And there is a -- I would say, a trend and a pressure for Muslim women to cover, so more and more Muslims are advocating wearing of the headscarf and wearing of the veil. I feel that pressure myself.

So, I do think there is -- there is a pressure there. And I think there's more and more sort of patriarchal interpretations, but I think one good thing that's come out of religiosity is more Muslim women are gaining knowledge about the Islamic rites. Hence, you have the rise of Islamic feminism.

I know you were talking about feminism being incompatible, but I would say it's compatible, because all those secular feminists would see faith as a problem, Muslim feminists would see as a solution. And it's a very powerful tool to challenge patriarchal interpretations.

ANDERSON: Fascinating, guys. We're going to have to take a very short break, pay for the show, as ever. But we appreciate your thoughts. Great debate, thank you very much, indeed.

Forty-four minutes past nine in London. When we come back, the seeds of change in rural Ecuador. We're going to take a look at the businesses impacting women's lives there and changing the environment. That is our Going Green special series of reports tonight, coming up after this.


ANDERSON: All right. Using design, technology, and innovation, we are looking at the creations in business helping to change our planet.

All this week, CONNECT THE WORLD has been Going Green, from footwear in the US that is entirely recyclable, and made from recycled material, I hasten to add, we then headed to rural Bangladesh, where an eco-friendly project is helping to bring electricity into homes for the very first time.

And then, we hopped on board a powerful icebreaker in the arctic. It's helping ships to shave thousands of kilometers off their journey between Asia and Europe, saving fuel and vastly reducing carbon emissions.

Well, our next story tonight takes us to the Ecuadorian Andes where indigenous artists are using nature to help fight poverty and save the environment. CNN's Adriana Hauser explains.


OLGA MORAN, ARTISAN (through translator): We struggled so much in life. We made very little. It wasn't enough. It was hard. One day, we started making necklaces with seeds.

ADRIANA HAUSER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Olga Moran lives in this impoverished village near Otavalo, Ecuador, selling necklaces made of local seeds, this wife and mother of three says she turned her life around.

This interview was shot by this American woman, who Moran assures, helped her achieve this.

MORAN (through translator): Thanks to Mandy and the clients from the United States that help us, that buy from us, we are well, better than before. We don't suffer as much.

HAUSER (voice-over): The Andean Collection started as an academic project for this young entrepreneur as she researched ways to help women out of poverty in Ecuador.

AMANDA JUDGE, CEO AND FOUNDER, ANDEAN COLLECTION: I didn't see much way to increase the income in agriculture or in farming or carpentry. However, I did see a lot of potential to increase the income that was coming from their crafts.

HAUSER (voice-over): Amanda Judge encouraged the artisans to experiment with new designs that she believed would allow her to expand the business from local to international markets. In 2008, the theory went into practice.

JUDGE: They don't live hand to -- hand to mouth anymore. They have savings, they have consumer goods, they have TVs and cars. They work from their homes. They don't have to get up and carry 10-pound sacks of grain down to the market to get them sold and come back only when they've sold enough to be able to eat for the day.

HAUSER (voice-over): And that was the case for Olga Moran, but not anymore.

MORAN (through translator): I spend time with my children, my husband, my home. I couldn't do that before. I was gone.

HAUSER (voice-over): With more means, she hopes to offer her children a better life.

MORAN (through translator): That in the future they can be somebody, that they can study, that they won't be like us. That they can be intelligent, that they learn everything.

HAUSER (voice-over): All the accessories in the Andean Collection are made with local seeds harvested in the Ecuadorian rainforest and lowlands.

JUDGE: The three main types are Acia, pambil, and Tagua. The use of these natural materials promotes forest growth because it allows the farmers who harvest the seeds to get a living off of their land rather than selling their land to oil companies or logging it for the wood, so it actually promotes forest growth.

HAUSER (voice-over): Amanda Judge now works with 40 artisans, and besides bringing social change to their families, she has seen her business take off.

HAUSER (on camera): Chic and green, these accessories are now being sold in 1500 stores worldwide. And meanwhile, the success of the fashionable designs has made a difference in the lives of many. Moran among them.

MORAN (through translator): I am so grateful, I don't know how to express it. I don't know how to repay.

HAUSER (voice-over): Adriana Hauser, CNN, New York.


ANDERSON: And the last of those special reports tomorrow. We're going to go back to the arctic, this time with our special contributor Philippe Cousteau. He's traveling with a group of elite scientists gathering data related to climate change. We're going to take a look at the mission and its financial backers, focusing on why corporations are now looking to get behind projects which are making a difference. That for you on Friday.

Hundreds of guests, but not a royal in sight. Up next, we're going to take you to India and a wedding fit for a prince.


ANDERSON: Well, it can't have escaped your notice that there is a royal wedding fast approaching here in the UK, and it's just over two weeks. CNN will be guiding you through every step of the day, of course.

Joining our coverage team will be a new face to many of you. British TV presenter Cat Deeley. So, what better place to get acquainted and to have a bit of a gossip about the event than in the back of a London cab?


ANDERSON (on camera): So, you're back from a stint in the States for what is one of the most highly-anticipated events for decades. You're joining us --


ANDERSON: -- for the royal wedding. Are you excited?

DEELEY: I'm very excited. I actually can't believe it. It's weird, because it's kind of come out of nowhere all of a sudden. Now, it's full on. It's CNN, 29th of April, Piers and Anderson on either side. I'm going to have to keep those two reckless apes in order, I think.


ANDERSON: You know Prince William, don't you?

DEELEY: I do. I know the boys. I know the boys and I know Prince Charles. I've never met Kate, but I think she looks like a really great girl, actually.

ANDERSON: What are you looking forward to most on the date?

DEELEY: I'm looking forward to the general feeling. It's quite nice for everybody to get together and celebrate something. Something that's meant to be joyous and -- and happy.

ANDERSON: It's that sort of feel-good effect, though, isn't it? That we're all looking forward to. Have you seen, yet, where you are going to be on the day?

DEELEY: No, you were just telling --

ANDERSON: We're just about to drive past it, bang! What are you wearing, Cat, on the day?

DEELEY: Don't know yet. Don't know. I'm going to wear something by Mulberry --


DEELEY: -- because I want to wear a British brand.

ANDERSON: Brilliant.

DEELEY: And I think that's kind of what I think she should do with her dress, as well. I would like to see Sarah Burton design her dress, who was the right-hand woman to Alexander McQueen, and has now taken over the label.

And I just think it would be a real -- because he can do very classic designs, but with a really -- spontaneous flair to them and something a little bit dramatic, and I would like her to push the boundaries a little bit. I think it would be lovely for her to tip her hat to his creative genius.

ANDERSON: How are you going to keep Piers and Anderson apart on the day?


DEELEY: Well, I'm definitely sitting between them for a starter. That's one certain --

ANDERSON: The rows between two, four, and --

DEELEY: -- each. Or the other way around, whichever way you want it. But no, I'm looking forward to it. I think it's just -- oh yes, there we are.

ANDERSON: Here we are. Looks great, and the flags are out. The flags are out for you, Cat. You're home.

Are you partial to a wedding?

DEELEY: I love a wedding. A really good wedding I think is just genius. Great food and a glass of champagne and a slight tear in the eye and a whisk around the dance floor, being slightly manhandled. I'm all up for that.


ANDERSON: We're all up for that. Cat Deeley, joining us on the team for the royal wedding coverage.

With a huge guest list and plenty of tradition, the royal wedding will be far from you average ceremony, of course. Unless you live in India where, as Mallika Kapur explains, every couple can have a taste of the royal life.



MALLIKA KAPUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Priyanka and Aditya have lived in various cities around the world. But, when it came to getting married, there was only one place to have the wedding. Back home in India.

PRIYANKA CHADHA, BRIDE: Every Indian wedding is royal.

KAPUR (voice-over): The bride looks every bit a princess and has her Prince Charming swooning.

ADITYA ANAND, BRIDEGROOM: Wow. It's beautiful.

KAPUR (voice-over): In India, you don't have to be a future king or queen to be treated as one on your wedding day. Or days.

CHADHA: It's really spread out over lot -- over a week, with lots of food, lots of people.

KAPUR (voice-over): Lots of dancing.


KAPUR (voice-over): And lots of tradition.

KAPUR (on camera): No Indian wedding is complete without this age-old tradition, the Mehendi ceremony, during which the bride and all the women in her family plus her girlfriends apply Mehendi on their arms.

CHADHA: A royal wedding in the West stands no chance in front of an Indian wedding. An Indian wedding's always so grand and so full of color and vibrance.

KAPUR (voice-over): There are some similarities. Hundreds of people on the guest list, an expansive menu, designer clothes and jewelry, and lots of fun.

CHADHA: For Indian weddings, the one word I think is "grand."

KAPUR (voice-over): Some things, though, are very different. There's no carriage involved. The groom uses another form of transport to reach the wedding venue, surrounded by still more dancing.

The ceremony is a traditional Hindu one. It takes place around fire, considered sacred, and is complete after the couple walk around it.

SHOBHA ANAND, BRIDEGROOM'S MOTHER: God bless them and that they have a very happy future.

KAPUR (voice-over): That's her wish for Aditya and Priyanka. And, she says, for William and Kate. One a princess for life, one a princess for her wedding day. Mallika Kapur, CNN, New Delhi.


ANDERSON: Well, if you can't wait until the royal wedding, then head to our special unveiled website, where we are counting down the days, hours, seconds, even, until the royal couple say "I do." It's your one- stop shop for everything you need to know about William and Kate and the build-up to their big day.

In our Parting Shots tonight, if your head is in a spin over the royal wedding, then spare a thought for this gymnast.




ANDERSON: You're watching Polish tumbling sensation Jozef Wadecki going through the motions in a video that's been causing quite a stir on the internet.

And if you think this is amazing, wait until you see our next sporting feat.





ANDERSON: From well inside his own half, Colombian goalkeeper Quinonez Wilson conjures up a lucky strike which sends is counterpart reeling, feeling very, very stupid, and the rest of his team rejoicing. And putting the beauty into the beautiful game. Isn't that great? Tonight's Paring Shots for you.

I'm Becky Anderson, that's your world connected. Thank you for watching. Your world news headlines and "BackStory" will follow after this short break. Don't go away.